Beth Gilstrap

Beth Gilstrap is the author of I Am Barbarella (2015) from Twelve Winters Press. Her work has been selected as’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. Born and raised in the Charlotte area, she has recently relocated to Louisville.

All Books

Deadheading and Other Stories

Beth Gilstrap

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280004


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

“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 interviewed on This Podcast Will Change Your Life!

This episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life stars the Beth Gilstrap (Deadheading & Other Stories, I Am Barbarella: Stories). It was recorded over the Zoom between the This Podcast Will Change Your Life home studio in Chicago, IL and Gilstrap’s home in Kentucky, not North Carolina, in December 2021. You can listen to this episode here, or below, […]

Beth Gilstrap, author of DEADHEADING AND OTHER STORIES, interviewed for Southern Review of Books

Whether reading her beautifully-detailed descriptions of place in the outstanding “What Magic” and “Lake Hartwell, South Carolina” or diving into the hurt but determined mind of Layla in “Still Soft, Still Whole” and “Deadheading,” it’s clear that Beth Gilstrap knows how to capture the essential truths of place and people. Her latest collection, Deadheading & Other […]

Beth Gilstrap Discusses Short Story Collection DEADHEADING With The Rumpus!

Beth Gilstrap’s second story collection, Deadheading, won the 2019 Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Award and publishes tomorrow. It includes stories Leesa Cross-Smith characterizes as “little gardens—the words blooming, the rain too.” While reading, I kept coming back to this blurb. These stories are deeply rooted in the lives of working-class women in the Carolinas, […]


DEADHEADING AND OTHER STORIES by Beth Gilstrap reviewed in Necessary Fiction!

Deadheading, the practice of pruning dead flower heads in order to preserve the plant, provides Beth Gilstrap with a rich metaphor around which to organize her new story collection. The twenty-two stories in Deadheading & Other Stories, which won the 2019 Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize, range widely in content, tone, and voice. But as […]