Thesis Title

The Cicada Summer

Author

Ryan Crider

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005

Degree

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Committee Chair

Wayne Blackmon

Keywords

fiction, Midwest, addiction, families, death, grieving

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature

Abstract

The Cicada Summer is a work of original fiction concerned with the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town and the turbulent events that beset their lives over the course of one summer. In these eight stories, constructed from various narrative points-of-view and employing a variety of stylistic features, characters find themselves in constant conflict with themselves and one another against a backdrop of festering societal transformations. Themes explored include the struggle to maintain stability in the family unit, parent-child relationships, the coming-of-age process, the grip of addiction, the nature of regret, and the hope of overcoming loss. A major factor in nearly all the stories is the debilitating influence of methamphetamine use, the existence of which has altered the social landscape of the town, just as it has many areas across the Midwest. Also at the center of these conflicts is a natural phenomenon that descends upon this rural community and distracts the various desperate parents, their disaffected children, and all the other townspeople. The rare cicada emergence thus provides the cycle of stories with its central metaphor, a constant reminder of inevitable death and simultaneously a source of awe at the fundamental possibilities of life, fleeting though it may be.

Copyright

© Ryan Crider

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