Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.F.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

John Henry Fleming, Ph.D.

Keywords

Wilderness, Death, Everglades, Florida, Mosquitoes

Abstract

Thoreau said that, "in wildness is the preservation of the world." The characters in the following collection of stories might be tempted to rephrase that statement to read, "in wildness is the preservation of the criminal world." These stories feature wild places where the natural world often is not as dangerous as the people who seek refuge in the borderlands between wilderness and civilization. Many crime stories take place in cities-for good reason. More people usually equates with more crime. However, anywhere that people choose to live, crime is sure to follow-crime against each other, crime against themselves, and even crime against the world they inhabit. In "Blood and Dirt," two brothers find themselves dependent on their native landscape for different reasons. One will have to let go, but the other will find him harder to shake loose than a cottonmouth wrapped around a cypress knee. "Wet Season" finds a man hiding in plain sight at the southern fringe of civilization, and doing a fine job of it until his past comes looking for him. Instead of watching the last reflection of his inner wildness disappear, the protagonist of "Great Apes" decides to internalize his problems. And in "Itch: A Vampire Story," a group of teenagers who enjoy the dark mythology of the undead learn firsthand of a dark reality in the Everglades. These characters are often seeking to escape the hectic contemporary world of computers and cell phones, mortgages and nine-to-five jobs. What they discover is that, while unspoiled nature may be hard to find, human nature is even more difficult to escape.

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