Deadheading and Other Stories by Beth Gilstrap
Irrevocably tied to the Carolinas, these stories tell tales of the woebegone, their obsessions with decay, and the haunting ache of the region itself—the land of the dwindling pines, the isolation inherent in the mountains and foothills, and the loneliness of boomtowns. Predominantly working-class women challenge the status quo by rejecting any lingering expectations or romantic notions of Southern femininity. Small businesses are failing. Factories are closing. Money is tight. The threat of violence lingers for women and girls. Through their collective grief, heartache, and unsettling circumstances, many of these characters become feral and hell-bent on survival. Gilstrap’s prose teems with wildness and lyricism, showing the Southern gothic tradition of storytelling is alive and feverishly unwell in the twenty-first century.
“Beth Gilstrap doesn't write stories. She creates worlds. Living, breathing, meticulously crafted ecosystems we can walk and breathe in. Around every corner is someone familiar, some bleeding wound that hasn't quite healed, some inhabitant walking through their lives independent of our gaze. These are heartbreaking worlds, but nonetheless beautiful.”—Jared Yates Sexton, author of The Man They Wanted Me to Be
“These stories are little gardens—the words blooming, the rain too.”—Leesa Cross-Smith, author of The Close to Okay
“Beth Gilstrap is a grand storyteller, and her lush, endearing Deadheading and Other Stories is a marvel. Steeped in despair, Gilstrap’s characters are lonely, wistful folk—trapped, dripping with longing, saturated with anguish and melancholy—who carve out necessary spaces of personhood in the tiny corners of their lives: making coffee, digging hands in the dirt, frying eggs in gobs of butter, reminiscing about days gone by. These characters are terrae incarnate—of this earth, drudged from it, molded and shaped by its rivers and valleys and the winding roads that go on and on, who, yet, are ever seeking, never quite settled. In this enchanting collection—with language and plotting so beautifully crafted, it stings—Gilstrap delivers us through darkness toward a hanging promise of hope, a glinting bit of fortune that might, yet, be within reach.”—Robert James Russell, author of Mesilla and Sea of Trees
Beth Gilstrap is the author of I Am Barbarella (2015) from Twelve Winters Press. Her work has been selected as Longform.org’s “Fiction Pick of the Week” and chosen by Dan Chaon for inclusion in the Best Microfiction Anthology 2019. She holds an MFA from Chatham University. Her stories, essays, and hybrids have appeared in Ninth Letter, the Minnesota Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Stream Lit, and Wigleaf, among others. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a house full of critters.