Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rita Ciresi, M.F.A.

Committee Member

John Fleming, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ira Sukrungruang, M.F.A.


Florida, Women, Dog shows, Reunion, Mother-daughter relationships


All of the protagonists in this collection of stories are starving. The world around them buzzes with the electric hum of modern society, a siren song that tempts these girls and women with the promise of love, opportunity, affluence, and dreams. Instead, they find themselves lost somehow, left behind, victims of circumstance, confused by dysfunctional families, and romanced by the media. They no longer know themselves, and stumble in their quest for happiness. They are lured into competitions with imaginary adversaries, and sometimes lose. The less control they have in their own lives, the more desperate they become, often going to great lengths to satisfy their hunger for love, acceptance, and security.

A little girl wants nothing more than a normal, loving family in "Raylene," and when she tires of dreaming her life were different, she decides to do something about it. The protagonist of "The Broken Lamp" is plagued by the desire to be free of her financial concerns, and loses herself in this desire to the point that her marriage is threatened. The pursuit of love, in "Management Material," leads a movie theater employee to find happiness, although not in the way she expected. Old friends attempt to rekindle their connection in "Common Ground," desperate to regain the closeness of their adolescence. "Daughter of the Moon" features a woman with a family secret that she has kept since childhood, a secret that she now must dig up if she ever wants to move forward. And, in "Falling," a woman longing for acceptance devises an unconventional plan to win the adoration that she has always yearned for.

The characters in these stories occupy the same psychic state. They are wounded, fragile, idealistic, and painfully self-conscious. Disillusionment with an impervious world serves only to resurrect repressed feelings, leaving the characters with a cognitive dissonance that they work tirelessly, if aimlessly and foolishly, to reconcile. Unable to satiate themselves, they cannot avoid feeding the darkest dreams that always lurk in the shadowy corners of consciousness.