Humberto: The Fire Next Time

Document Type



Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

John Dalton, MFA


Troy, Mary

Sanow, Anne


“The Fire Next Time” is the opening section of a novel, Humberto, that tells the story of a group of people working at a biomedical engineering firm in St. Louis. The section follows Charles, a well-respected employee and leader whose marriage is slowly disintegrating. In the first chapter, a larger-than-life employee, the Priest, joins the company. He befriends Charles while working closely with him. The Priest, however, begins an affair with Charles’ wife, Linda. Charles is put in a difficult position: how should he work with a man he both hates and admires? As Charles struggles with this dilemma, a mysterious and rapidly growing lump, christened “Humberto” by Charles’ fellow employees, has appeared on his boss’ neck. As a result, Mr. Samuels, the boss, has begun acting more and more erratically. Charles, too, feels himself being pulled down a darker and unpredictable path. This novel explores themes of loneliness and loss, anxiety and absurdity. It is also a cross-genre piece, demonstrating realism, satire, surrealism and the fantastic.

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