Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
Creative Writing and Environment
K. L. Cook
Kentucky Ghostscapes is a collection of stories that follow the life and psychological development of Kentucky native Lizzy Black, a student of cultural anthropology and aspiring writer who often reflects upon the vibrant presence of wayward family members in her early childhood, Kentucky’s infamous past as a site of colonization, slavery, and genocide, Kentucky agriculture, native plants, and the processes of life, death, and rebirth that make the present world possible.
The collection begins with the title piece “Kentucky Ghostscapes,” a story in which Lizzy, the writer, meditates upon a visit home, where she and her father, Joe, tour the family’s cattle farm, and Joe “shows” her living and nonliving elements of landscape that no longer physically exist. Working from this experience, Lizzy begins to articulate her notion of “ghostscapes,” and, through her meditation, traces the ways in which various ghosts continue to haunt and shape her internal world and conceptions of home.
In other first-person stories—“Pawpaws,” “Green Worms And Other Displaced Things,” and “Lizzy’s Dream”—Lizzy reflects upon her relationships with plants, men, and Kentucky, and are, like “Ghostscapes,” written in a non-linear, associative structure, and further explore and clarify the topography of Lizzy’s internal landscape. Lizzy returns to investigate her ghostscapes more fully in “The Anthropologist Returns Home,” a connective story written from an omniscient perspective, where Lizzy makes a last-ditch attempt to exorcise the spirit of her grandfather, who everyone referred to as Baby Tyrant, from his rusted-out Cadillac Eldorado. She fails.
In “Happy Birthday, Baby Tyrant,” we meet six-year-old Lizzy and her whiskey-guzzling grandfather on his sixty-third birthday. As Lizzy waits for Baby Tyrant on a stone fence line, she sees his pick-up barreling towards her at full speed, without a driver. Lizzy jumps out of the truck’s path and survives, but the incident, unless properly exorcised, will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Meghann A. Hart
Hart, Meghann A., "Kentucky ghostscapes: Stories" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16922.