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.

OCLC Number