Behind the Higher Hill: A Novel

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Thisbe Nissen

Second Advisor

Dr. Todd Kuchta

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Slawinski

Fourth Advisor

Julie Buntin


Creative writing, literature


A rural noir set in the raw hills of southwestern Wisconsin, Behind the Higher Hill follows the rhythmic voice of broken soul Harrison as he watches the creeping expansion of a sand quarry encroach on the last reaches of his deserted family farm. When he loses the job he's had since youth, he takes another, against his wife Ruth's wishes, at a nearby prison. The return of Roger, his rarely-seen brother, leads to Harrison’s involvement in an illicit marijuana ring, and further destabilizes his marriage. Pitted against the backdrop of the hard-living, hard-working world of their town, Harrison, Ruth, and Roger grapple against a past and a place that has pulled them back together as Harrison tries to live in accordance with the land, and with grace. Reminiscent of Jim Harrison, Kent Haruf, and Daniel Woodrell, Behind the Higher Hill is a sweeping tribute to the nation’s heartland that speaks to that territory in our souls which calls us back to those origins we look for, but that are irretrievably lost.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until


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