Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Degree Name

Creative Writing (Fiction)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Kevin Canty

Committee Co-chair

Deidre McNamer, Deborah Slicer


Dark humor, Collections, Small towns, Kansas, 1950s


University of Montana

Subject Categories



The Grand Gallery is the story of a woman coming to terms with her identity and purpose in a small town in Kansas during the post-WWII boom. Astrid Grand is the heiress apparent to the family business, a gallery that has been at the center of the town’s operations from the time of its founding. The gallery displays a person’s “collection” at the time of their death. The townspeople collect everything from Victorian mourning jewelry to gum wrappers to objects found in trees. “In many ways,” as the novel’s opening chapter states, “the collections displayed at the gallery served as a mirror for the townspeople themselves: beautiful and ugly, sophisticated and trashy, bizarre and commonplace, and everything in between.” The novel’s major conflict lies in the tension between old and new orders. As modern conveniences make life easier for the townspeople, they think less and less of their mortality, and their desire to collect wanes. The gallery is thus in danger of failing. As the novel progresses, Astrid learns her father is dying. She struggles to grasp the realities, and consequences, of this fact while also finding herself preoccupied with a beautiful stranger who arrives in town, a stranger who serves as a reminder of all that lies outside the borders of her small town. Astrid must decide whether she will fight to save the gallery, or if she will let it, and all that it stands for—family, tradition, honor, obligation—fall by the wayside.

Included in

Fiction Commons



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