By Donald Morrill
"With his debut novel, Donald Morrill shows that prose and poetry can become indistinguishable on the page just as beauty and tragedy are often indistinguishable in our lives. This is a punchy, finely written novel driven by a fierce determination to condense our humanity to the written word." —Wiley Cash, author of The Last Ballad and A Land More Kind Than Home
"The monster called my cell phone this morning, demanding money." So begins Jill Lundgrove, the unforgettable protagonist of Beaut. Secluded in a cheap apartment on a ring road of Des Moines after a fire has destroyed her house—a blaze "the Monster," her drug-addicted, adult son might have caused—she confronts her precarious circumstances. "I'm in great need of reckoning," she writes, partly to herself and to another initially unnamed. What of that fire, the Monster's criminal companions, and the surprising prospect of a love affair after years of widowhood? And what of her three other children, who have variously sought to protect her, flee her, dominate her? The haunting story that follow vividly illuminates the discordant accords of marriage and madness, the ambivalence in motherhood, and the mysteries of inheritance—and bestows a strange, unexpected gift on those closest to her.
Donald Morrill is the author of the nonfiction volumes Impetuous Sleeper, The Untouched Minutes (River Teeth Nonfiction Prize), Sounding for Cool, and A Stranger's Neighborhood, as well as three collections of poetry (among them Awaiting Your Impossibilities, a 2015 Florida Book Award recipient). He has been the Bedell Visiting Writer in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and writer-in-residence at the Poetry Center at Smith. Currently he teaches in the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Tampa.