Creative Writing

Beulah Land by Krista McGruder

Beulah Land by Krista McGruder, graduate, MFA in Creative Writing at The New School

41DMB89F8TLToby Press, 2003 In McGruder’s imaginative but overwritten debut, the complex relationships between lovers and family members, between people and the land around them, link 13 stories of hardship, moral doubt, intergenerational conflict and defiance. In the title novella, narrated in a second-person voice that darts from intimacy to abrasiveness and back, New York stockbroker Amanita Buell survives a double mastectomy only to be fired for her bad attitude. Without missing a beat, she breaks up with her boyfriend, sells her condo and returns to her childhood home in Arkansas, in the shadow of a gigantic statue of Jesus, where she takes a stand against the townspeople, just as her grandfather did. In “The Bereavement of Eugene Wheeler,” the question of a convict’s right to be buried in a community cemetery causes a rift between Eugene, the funeral director, and his righteous son Scottie, who is dating the convict’s daughter. McGruder’s memorable—and amusing—narrative of the burial renders the land as much a participant as the protagonists. Several of the stories question humans’ treatment of animals; in “Divination,” for example, an impoverished father struggles with drought and his trucker daughter’s views about cattle farming, while in “Dirty Laundry,” a malnourished mother cat and her three small kittens allow two very different and prickly women a moment of tender connection. Though the prose bears marks of a beginner’s heavy hand (“I feel cold, in this moment, as I relate the story that springs from the destruction I can cause with my slight indifference,” thinks the narrator of “Dirty Laundry”), McGruder proves she can spin a fine yarn.

Take The Next Step

Submit your application


To apply to any of our Bachelor's programs (Except the Bachelor's Program for Adult Transfer Students) complete and submit the Common App online.

Graduates and Adult Learners

To apply to any of our Master's, Doctural, Professional Studies Diploma, Graduates Certificate, or Associate's programs, or to apply to the Bachelor's Program for Adult and Transfer Students, complete and submit the New School Online Application.