Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Committee Member

Douglas Unger

Number of Pages



I adopted the title of this short story collection after viewing the work of Italian sculptor Mario Merz, who, in turn, borrowed the phrase from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. I first saw Merz' "Unreal City" structure at the Guggenheim in Bilbao during the summer of 2006, while traveling through Spanish Basque country. Merz, an integral artist within Italy's Arte Povera art movement (and outspoken anti-Fascist political figure), utilized cheap, industrial materials---or "found" materials---when constructing his igloo structures, emphasizing the temporal nature of their very existence. Designed as an extended metaphor for the life of an artist, the structure itself remains a sustainable yet impermanent concoction of twigs, rubber, mud and clamps. Merz' signature construction motifs are often coupled with fragments of political or literary ideologies, subtly woven into these "poor" construction materials; In this collection of short stories, the individual pieces are meant to function as self-contained narratives. And yet, read together, subtly repeated "themes" and "ideas" weave and resonate throughout the collection. The notion of the temporal exudes an undeniable presence---with details of specific place and time often discarded in favor of more emotional landscapes. Identity, too, is presented here as something temporal, as characters face adversities that challenge their self awareness and social constructions. Often, it is the mundane moment that defines them; and there are plenty of mundane moments captured herein.


City; Collection; Original writing; Short; Short Stories; Unreal

Controlled Subject

American literature; Literature, Modern

File Format


File Size

3430.4 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit