Document Type



Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

John Dalton


John Dalton

Tola Abraham

Eamonn Wall


This thesis opens with a novel excerpt, Discreet Music, followed by four independent short stories. Discreet Music is a family drama novel that explores the idea of grief, stagnancy, and renewal through its main characters, Liam O’Connor, Marcel Duvall, and Henry Duvall. In it, Liam lives alone with his friend Natasha’s ghost at his mother’s house, prepping to help her sell it, when his old friend from school, Marcel, reappears dealing with the loss of his mother. With the return of Marcel comes the rest of the Duvall family and their shared traumas, and, together, they learn how to coexist with each other. The following four short stories, “The Last Long River Sigh,” “A Love Song in Three Parts,” “Days like Television,” and “Water Beneath the Rocks,” are not interconnected; however, they all feature similar themes of grief, longing, and young adulthood. In their own ways, each narrator learns how to process loss and come to terms with their impending adult lives.

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