Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Fine Arts

Major

Creative Writing

Date of Defense

11-11-2011

Graduate Advisor

Mary Troy

Committee

Troy, Mary

Dalton, John

Schreiner, Steven

Abstract

That Road, Brother is a collection of short fiction set in towns along Highway 55 between St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee. The collection deals with themes of family, connection, responsibility, guilt, and abandonment. The characters in That Road, Brother have all either been abandoned by someone at an early age or have abandoned someone themselves. Because of this—or maybe in spite of this—they are all searching for connections. Some of them are searching for family, and the collection questions what the word “family” actually means. Does family end with blood relationships, or can a person find family in someone unrelated? What sorts of responsibilities does a person have toward his or her family, and what kind of guilt can arise if those perceived responsibilities aren’t fulfilled? Class issues also arise in the stories in That Road, Brother. The characters in the collection have very little money or resources. Most are from small, southern towns and have to survive and make lives with what little they’re given or what they can grab for themselves. They are often judged harshly for just being who they are. All of this makes the search for family and connection all the more urgent. They are characters who are on the edge of society, and they run the risk of connecting with no one at all if they can’t connect with others who are out on the edge with them.

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