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Can You See Me?: Stories to Fight Erasure

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There has been a recent push for queer fiction, especially in the young adult genre, whose focus is gay and lesbian relationships. This growth is much needed in terms of visibility and the furthering of acceptance, but there are still

There has been a recent push for queer fiction, especially in the young adult genre, whose focus is gay and lesbian relationships. This growth is much needed in terms of visibility and the furthering of acceptance, but there are still subjects within the LGBTQ+ community that need to be addressed, including bisexual, asexual, and non-binary erasure. There are many people who claim that these identities do not exist, are labels used as a stepping stone on one's journey to discovering that they are homosexual, or are invented excuses for overtly promiscuous or prudish behavior. The existence of negative stereotypes, particularly those of non-binary individuals, is largely due to a lack of visibility and respectful representation within media and popular culture. However, there is still a dearth of non-binary content in popular literature outside of young adult fiction. Can You See Me? aims to fill the gap in bisexual, asexual, and non-binary representation in adult literature. Each of the four stories that make up this collection deals with an aspect of gender and/or sexuality that has been erased, ignored, or denied visibility in American popular culture. The first story, "We'll Grow Lemon Trees," examines bisexual erasure through the lens of sociolinguistics. A bisexual Romanian woman emigrates to Los Angeles in 1989 and must navigate a new culture, learn new languages, and try to move on from her past life under a dictatorship where speaking up could mean imprisonment or death. The second story "Up, Down, All Around," is about a young genderqueer child and their parents dealing with microaggressions, examining gender norms, and exploring personal identity through imaginary scenarios, each involving an encounter with an unknown entity and a colander. The third story, "Aces High," follows two asexual characters from the day they're born to when they are 28 years old, as they find themselves in pop culture. The two endure identity crises, gender discrimination, erasure, individual obsessions, and prejudice as they learn to accept themselves and embrace who they are. In the fourth and final story, "Mile Marker 72," a gay Mexican man must hide in plain sight as he deals with the death of his partner and coming out to his best friend, whose brother is his partner's murderer.

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Created

Date Created
2018-05

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Playing the Changes: Four Stories of Music, Death, and the Unknown

Description

There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned,

There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned, may still be alive and hidden by estranged family? Generations may pass, and children may grow up, but the pain leaves marks that echo across time and the other borders we construct between our past and present. We may find strength on solitude, or prayer, or the words of a song written by someone else. In these four stories, spanning almost half a century, the marks of death and attempts to soothe or hide them are everywhere. Children on the cusp of adulthood grapple with the lives and the lies of their parents. Musicians examine the relationship of their music to the world. Legends and myths lurk in the shadows, tempting with false hope and rationalizing the unexplainable.
In “Playing the Changes,” we meet two men stranded in a small desert town in 1972, a time when their attraction to each other is still dangerous. Nile Walker is a jazz musician, running from a spurned lover and the law. Benji Garza is a once-devout Catholic, fixing cars and caring for his orphaned nephew, Hector. Walker and Garza’s affair will spin both lives and their heredity into sweeping tragedies that characters battle with lust and melody. Walker has a son he never meets, a drifter who finds connection with another lost soul at an airport in “La Petite Mort.” Hector is forced into early adulthood in “The Words,” when his ailing uncle’s health fails due to a mysterious disease not yet called AIDS. Later Tre—a young man struggling with the weight of his own lineage—meets him in “PHX.” These stories examine questions of death’s causes and its myriad effects, and offer this solution: Knowing that we cannot know everything, and living, loving, and singing anyway.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016-05

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Sidekick: A Speculative Fiction Story

Description

In the future a Community struggles for survival on an uninhabitable Earth. A small faction of rebels, called Villains, put the lives of the entire Community at risk as they fight for domination of their home. Heroes and their Sidekicks

In the future a Community struggles for survival on an uninhabitable Earth. A small faction of rebels, called Villains, put the lives of the entire Community at risk as they fight for domination of their home. Heroes and their Sidekicks rise up from the population to fight the Villains and win back their world. As they complete their training and begin to enter the world of Heroes and Villains, Alyssa begins to struggle with her identity as a Sidekick, her new role in the Community, and whether she can really preserve all that matters most to her. This excerpt from the larger novel, Sidekick, tells the story of Alyssa's struggles to remain true to herself, and her best friend Jeremy, all the while being called to serve the Community and eradicate the threat the Villains pose to her way of life. I conceived Sidekick as a work of speculative fiction because I believe the genre is one of the most powerful tools for education in the present time. By freeing one's mind to wonder, the dull becomes an exciting thought experiment that can (and does) influence how individuals see their world. Reading pieces like Ender's Game and 1984 I have found my ways of thinking challenged and stretched, and ideas from these works of fiction have stuck with and changed me. One major goal of the work was identifying and integrating major academic and life lessons I have learned into the overall work, providing it an intellectual and emotional grounding in reality. Having its foundations in the real world, the setting of Sidekick becomes a stage for a fantastical story as well as the reader's own imagination and introspection.

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Created

Date Created
2015-12

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The Bible Retold

Description

A short, fantasy novel using essential characters, themes, and events as depicted in the Bible.

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Created

Date Created
2014-05

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Relays: Short Fiction Anthology

Description

A collection of chronological, interconnected short stories following the lives and changes of a family throughout the 20th century, connected through the generations by unifying objects carried in from story to story.

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Created

Date Created
2019-05

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American, incendiary

Description

The American culture of capitalism and consumerism is predicated upon the idea that the individuals inside the system are safe. The years since 2001 have seen such finite illusions of isolation and security irrevocably altered and a collective vulnerability rise

The American culture of capitalism and consumerism is predicated upon the idea that the individuals inside the system are safe. The years since 2001 have seen such finite illusions of isolation and security irrevocably altered and a collective vulnerability rise in the vacuum. Today, with the birth of social media and immediate information, terrorism—as a form of reprehensible protest and a desperate act of war—has gained a new fundamental resource: violence can be broadcast around the world the instant it happens. But with this technological upheaval, a new rogue brand of vigilantism has been born online, and is continually gaining strength as the reach of the Internet snakes further into everyday life, hypothetically altering the notion of individual power and America’s sense of justice, all while potentially placing more innocent lives in harm’s way. And still, amid the uncharted and ever violent reality of war, technology, and the Internet, there live people: the scarred and delicate tissue of heart and body, ever healing, deceptively vulnerable, and increasingly alone.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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The Book of Mortimer: another testament!

Description

The Book of Mortimer is a satirical account about the rise of a new modern day Mormon woman prophet named Champ. The mother of six—and wife to a very codependent man that can’t be left alone with a comfortable

The Book of Mortimer is a satirical account about the rise of a new modern day Mormon woman prophet named Champ. The mother of six—and wife to a very codependent man that can’t be left alone with a comfortable couch—believes a new testament is buried in a small field conveniently next to her kids’ bus stop. Taking place in a lower class area constructed entirely of beige apartments in Mesa, Arizona, The Book of Mortimer plays on similar themes of the early day Mormon Church and reimagines this American religion if it were discovered in the 21st century. Complete with an elite Home Owner’s Association, a corrupt frozen pizza company, a ten-year old capitalist, a trio of milk purveyors that hold a group of unfortunates hostage in the biggest grocery store in The United States, and an elementary school that is quite possibly run by a Neo-Nazi principal hiding his identity, The Book of Mortimer is an exhaustively entertaining novel, exploring themes of poverty and class, relationships and commitment, and figuring out one’s self-worth in an overwhelming world of persuasion and guilt.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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The fractured self: style, influences, and process

Description

An exploration of the art of writing fiction through the lens of memory, myth, and the fractured psyche, of performance and spectacle: image, projection, and the secret self. The craft of writing is the craft of myth. The very process

An exploration of the art of writing fiction through the lens of memory, myth, and the fractured psyche, of performance and spectacle: image, projection, and the secret self. The craft of writing is the craft of myth. The very process of storytelling relies on collective, personal, and historical myth-making - stories surrounding the body and consciousness, collective and personal memory.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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Junctions

Description

Junctions is a story collection about people at a crossroads, people who crave guidance from an absent parent or partner, people who don't know how to make their next move. Many of the stories are set in and around Charleston

Junctions is a story collection about people at a crossroads, people who crave guidance from an absent parent or partner, people who don't know how to make their next move. Many of the stories are set in and around Charleston where characters push back against having Southern traditions dictate the way they live. Ghosts and spirits roam the pages, helping or trapping the loved ones they are haunting. Elaborate meals, simple comfort food, and even the ceremonial sacrifice of a pelican carry the burden of bringing characters back from the brink of self-inflicted madness and isolation. The complexities of mother-daughter relationships are picked apart and cobbled back together over and over. In Junctions the only way for the characters to reach the next step is to wade through the toughest parts of being themselves.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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A way to write: my influences, interests, style, and process

Description

This essay is an exploration of Michael Holladay's interests in style and influence related to his writing and overall writing process. I've chosen a selection of books that both reflect my interests as a writer, books that I've loved and

This essay is an exploration of Michael Holladay's interests in style and influence related to his writing and overall writing process. I've chosen a selection of books that both reflect my interests as a writer, books that I've loved and have informed me in the past which continue to inform and inspire on each re-read (Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, for example) and also books I hadn't read and needed to in order to challenge myself with writing I haven't been exposed to yet so I can continue to grow (I hadn't, for instance, read Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson or Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel before preparation for this essay.) The fiction I've chosen to discuss strikes a balance between favorites that have formed me up to this point and new work to "fill in the gaps" of books I needed to read. Additionally, I've chosen a selection of books on craft to provide a lens for thinking about writing. Finally, I've also included work in other genres that inform my fiction (Ryan van Meter's creative nonfiction essays, If You Knew Then What I Know Now and Andrew Haigh's film, Weekend.)

I've intentionally chosen work that is diverse in both form and content. I have more linear fiction represented (William Trevor, for example) matched with work that's fragmentary and language focused (Christine Schutt's Nightwork among others) since I'm interested in how linear form and fragmentation can intersect, and I've been experimenting with both during my time in the program. And in terms of content, the majority of the work speaks to my interest in how region, specifically the South, impresses itself on sexuality and gender, specifically queer or decentered sexuality and gender. So I have books with a heavy focus on region (Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter and Girl Trouble by Holly Goddard Jones) and work that explores the complexities of sexuality and identity (Michael Cunningham, Edmund White, Alexander Chee, and I'll mention Haigh's film Weekend again because it's always worth mentioning again.) These works will help synthesize and bring together my interests in style, language, structure, and form, and in content.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016