Document Type



Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Mary Troy, MFA


Mary Troy

John Dalton

Shane Seely


"A Moment of Obvious Joy" is a collection of realist short stories that explores the difficulties of living lives that fall short of our expectations. These are stories about wanting and longing for things that elude you – for Scott, in “Sleeping with Insects,” it’s the methods of dealing with a shattered family; for Andi, in “Drowners,” a chance to prove herself as a young adult, as someone worthy of responsibility; for Brooke, in “Remains,” it’s how to escape from the shadow of her unsatisfying relationship with her father; and for Hannah, in “A Moment of Obvious Joy,” it’s learning to cope with dramatic change in a group that clings to stasis. These stories examine the ways in which we try, and often fail, to communicate these desires to others, how, in times of crisis, we instinctually take the burden of improvement upon ourselves rather than reach out to others, how that so often breeds more isolation and dissatisfaction. However, these stories are also about how, despite daily disappointments and heartbreaks, we find the resilience to move forward: we promise to do what is possible, we breach the surface, we focus on what we’ve created, we settle into new lives. We find moments of joy that give us strength. We are constantly stumbling, taking two steps backward, and yet, ever aware of our slow progress, we forge ahead.