The Stringer

First Advisor

Leni Zumas

Date of Publication

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing






Terrorism -- Fiction, Tennis stories, Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Fiction, Biological attack, Terrorist plot



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 310 p.)


In the novel The Stringer, Perla Coughlin has evacuated Pittsburgh following a biological attack. Now, at a Red Cross Shelter in Ohio, she slowly strings a racket as she tells a volunteer about her past, Pittsburgh's past, and what might lay ahead for both. Characters grapple with their ignorance toward environmental warning signs, the hidden costs of technology, and the disquieting ways in which apocalypses reveal "who we really are." The first-person novel relies heavily on the epistolary tradition as well as Oulipean conventions of form and structure. Tennis serves as a unifying force amongst the four main characters, and the 2010 U.S. Census provides the vehicle through which terrorists launch their plot. The novel aims at a return toward Pittsburgh, but returning home is easier said that done. The city and its industries have been fundamentally changed. Personal secrets have been brought to light. Perla's fierce loyalty to her city makes forgiveness as tall as task as clawing her way back to Pittsburgh.


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