The Desertianists


The Desertianists is a collection of stories and fragments that describes the haunting lives of those in Desert, Wisconsin. In 1934, the state of Wisconsin set out to convert 28.3 percent of the state into desert to research the long-term effects of desert-greening. The project was abandoned after just seven months, rendering over one-quarter of the state a barren desert. Not long after, the Divided States Department of Unspecified Services stepped in and took over the only hospitable town to exist in the Midwestern wasteland. They called this small outpost Desert. The Department subsequently established the Desert Institute for the Psychologically Numb. The Institute served as both the prison and hospital in the small town. Though there was virtually no industry in Desert, the population continued to grow. No one understood why…not at first. But the citizens of Desert, known as Desertianists, begin to believe that something more nefarious is going on within the walls of the Institute. Now, a once-escaped citizen of Desert—Ned Necktr, Chief Archivist for the Divided States Department of Unspecified Services—has returned to the ghostly town to stitch together the pieces of what Desert really was, and what eventually led to its demise. Revealed through personal narratives, transcripts, poetry, and other fragments, The Desertianists is one man’s attempt to make sense of the surreal town he grew up in, and how all stories are intimately wed to the place in which they were written.


Geoffrey Herbach

Committee Member

Chris McCormick

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Program of Study

Creative Writing




Humanities and Social Sciences

This document is currently not available here.



Rights Statement

In Copyright