Award Date

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Department

English

First Committee Member

Douglas Unger, Chair

Second Committee Member

Richard Wiley

Third Committee Member

Beth C. Rosenberg

Graduate Faculty Representative

Kirsten Swenson

Number of Pages

123

Abstract

My thesis is a collection of short stories exploring the tension between traditional narrative and the fantastic. "The Russians Have Come" was published in the February 2011 edition of PANK magazine. Another story, "Union," was part of a collaborative project with visual artist Lindsay Berg. Both the story and artwork appeared at the exhibit "I Hope You Are Feeling Better" at the Las Vegas Community Arts Center in September 2011. The rest of the stories are unpublished, and range from microfiction to the first draft of a novella. While the subject matter often veers to the outlandish, the structure is typically a conventional narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. I've found that it's useful to temper the marvelous with the sobriety of linear narrative.

Many of the stories here are concerned with the human impulse to destroy that which confounds us. In Sacred Bone, the narrator is so bewildered by his wife's sexuality that he can only relate to her by communicating to her diminutive, lessthreatening self: a mermaid tattoo on her back which tells him stories of life in the ocean. "The Russians Have Come" is told by xenophobic teachers who mistake personal idiosyncrasy with cultural difference. In "The Glove," the young girls of the orphanage are so astonished by their friend's death that their naive attempt to attenuate it appears macabre. In all of these examples, the impulse to destroy often arises from a desire to return to an ordered world, and the end result usually reels the characters into further confusion.

Such is the case with the narrator in "Thought To Be Extinct." Daniel discovers a species of talking crab near his grandmother's home on the Carolina coasts. The crab appears harmless - even intelligent - but his grandmother insists that chatter crab is deceptive and vicious (and a powerful fertility drug). Daniel makes a decision, and spends much of the story attempting to convince himself that it was the right one, but doubt lingers. Mrs. Hanson in "Grace Lewinsky, Glacier Queen" faces a similar predicament: whether to commit an act of culturally accepted violence, or to follow her own conscience and reason.

The remaining stories deal with brighter themes, namely, love and the happiness we find in it. In "Las Vegas Love Story," "Market Day," "Accounting," and "Union" the characters are basically well-adjusted people who find joy in each other. My motivation for writing is a usually celebratory one. Even in the darkest stories, I hope to convey the richness and peculiarity of our condition.

Keywords

Communication and the arts; Creative writing; Language; literature and linguistics; Original writing; Short stories

Disciplines

Creative Writing | Fiction | Literature in English, North America

Language

English

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