First Advisor

Leni Zumas

Date of Publication

Spring 5-22-2014

Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

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






Alienation (Rhetoric) -- Fiction, Short stories



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 116 pages)


Viktor Shklovsky writes that "the technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar,' to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged." This collection of short fiction capitalizes on that aim, weaving together history and humor with an absurd, biographical style.

"Himilco and Other Stories" includes several pieces of constrained fiction in the style of Oulipan authors, but produced with original rules and algorithms. "Zugzwang" results naturally from Donald Barthelme's form, whereas other stories capitalize on a more modern interpretation of the much-used zoomorphic narration. Most are written in the first-person perspective, though the scope and focus of each often speaks to a broad human philosophy. Stories range from the dark pine forests of Maine to ancient Tunisian deserts, and are often told by jaunty, untrustworthy narrators.

Taken as a whole these stories lay bare a desperation born from absence and disrepair, fear and adolescence--eight stories that struggle to answer the question, how do we get better?


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

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