Tom Bissell

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

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



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 62 p.)


Short stories, Story collection, Relationships, Women -- Psychology -- Fiction, Life change events -- Fiction, Interpersonal relations -- Fiction




The six short stories in this collection explore the lives and desires of disparate women. In "Sentinel," a woman visits an ex-boyfriend, injured in the army, and his family, with whom she has a fraught relationship, in their vacation home. A diagnosis of cancer spurs a woman to change her life in "Cell Division"; when a new possibility for treatment arises, she reconsiders the choice she made to take her life apart. In the story, "A Wake," a funeral and an unexpected pregnancy set the stage for the breakdown of a couple's relationship. In "A Cyclic Process," a woman conflates her ambivalence toward the anti-depressants she takes with her feelings about her relationship; in the end, she cannot let go of either. A woman, traveling with a new acquaintance, takes a trip to Venice in "The Edge of the World," and falls into an unsettling relationship with a man she meets there. The process of protein denaturation serves as a metaphor in "Marina," for the unraveling of a friendship between two teenage girls.


This thesis is only available to students, faculty and staff at PSU.

Persistent Identifier