Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Committee Member

Maile Chapman

Second Committee Member

Douglas Unger

Third Committee Member

David J. Morris

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Tusan

Number of Pages



This collection of short stories constitutes the strongest work I’ve completed during

my time as a student at UNLV, as well as the work that best represents who I am as a

writer. These stories have undergone fastidious revisions—several over the course of two

or more years—and have at once adhered to a conceptual ideal I’ve had for the collection as

a whole, as well as ventured into surprising territories that changed my under standing of

the collection. Over the course of writing these stories, the breadth of my writing, not

limited to but including the aspects of style, emotional content, and subject matter, has

markedly broadened.

This collection is linked in a variety of ways. “Bleachers,” “Under the Light,” and

“Surface” follow the arc of Zander, an amateur wrestler. “Bleachers” is told from the point

of a view of a parent observing her son and his friend compete in a youth wrestling

tournament. “Under the Light” is written from Zander’s point of view, an extremely

competitive high school wrestler battling an injury and living with a friend due to the

relationship he has with his father. “Surface” follows two retired collegiate athletes as they

look for significance outside of their lives in competition. “The Bench” and “Names and

Places” are linked by the character Marcus, and while it is not the focus in “Names and

Places,” in both stories he searches for ways to cope with loss.

While the other stories in this collection do not follow a similar arc, seven of the

eight are linked in that the stories take place in the state of Washington, and in the case of

“Jellyfish,” the two central characters are Washingtonians on a plane traveling back to

Washington. The diverse regions of the state are represented in these stories—the Kitsap

Peninsula in “Names and Places,” “Under the Light,” and “Surface,” Southwest Washington

and the woods of the Cascade Foothills in “Hell is a Green Place” and “Cryptodome,” dry and

pine forested Okanogan County in “The Bench,” and the rough and arid Columbia River

Basin in “Cryptodome” as well. I seek to capture a strong sense of place in my writing, and

these stories will hopefully situate the reader well in these landscapes I not only grew up

in, but am incredibly fond of.

While the majority of the stories in this collection are written in the tradition of

literary realism, “Hell is a Green Place” and “Names and Places” explore supernatural

elements that I did not believe I would explore when initially conceiving this collection.

They are also products of my interest in Washington State history, and they examine the

colonization and settlement of the state.

“Cryptodome” and “Jellyfish” are two stories told from the points of view of

characters with deep and intimate understandings of fairly specific subjects—

“Cryptodome” being narrated by a volcanologist observing the volcanic activity preceding

the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, and “Jellyfish” drawing parallels between the

narrator’s relationship and the rising populations of jellyfish in the Puget Sound.

Finally, while not limited in the range of emotional content, a sense of isolation the

characters feel may be the symbiotic link between all of the stories in this collection, and

the subject matters and settings I’ve written into only aid this sense of isolation.


Arts and Humanities

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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