Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Peter Selgin

Second Advisor

Chika Unigwe

Third Advisor

Laura Newbern


The anthology of 11 short stories delves deep into the intricacies of identity and the enigmatic landscape of the American South. Each narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the region, exploring the tangled webs of relationships, the weight of tradition, and the enduring struggle for self-discovery. In rural Mississippi, Kerry navigates the minefield of personal insecurities amidst simmering familial tensions, while Chris confronts the ghosts of his past, testing the resilience of their bond. Meanwhile, tensions escalate in a casino encounter between Javi and a predatory figure, unearthing deeper layers of trauma and prejudice, challenging societal norms and personal beliefs. Against the backdrop of farm life's harsh realities, a young boy grapples with his own capacity for violence, unraveling the complexities of family dynamics, tradition, and the allure of escape. Similarly, David is haunted by haunting memories and profound realizations in the aftermath of a tragic accident, wrestling with grief, guilt, and the fragile balance between protection and destruction symbolized by a gun in the tranquil yet ominous embrace of the Smoky Mountains. Other stories offer glimpses into unexpected encounters and transformative moments: from three friends stumbling upon a cult in rural Virginia, to a tornado uniting neighbors and revealing both fragility and resilience, to a Federal Recovery Agent navigating personal turmoil in pursuit of a fugitive involved in a hit-and-run. The anthology paints a vivid tapestry of the South, exploring themes of belonging, acceptance, and the eternal quest for understanding in a world shaped by tradition and change.

Included in

Fiction Commons