Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Marcia Douglas

Second Advisor

Jeffrey DeShell

Third Advisor

Martin Bickman


The seed for 200 Pieces was planted five years ago, when I read Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo. Reading the text was like studying a painting, which has no beginning or end; the eye simply explores the canvas, jumping from one area of interest to another. At the end of Pedro Paramo, one has constructed in one’s mind a picture of the whole from pieces that sometimes seem incongruous out of context. ...

200 Pieces is not yet complete. The final draft will hopefully be comprised of about 200 single-spaced pages. It’s been important throughout the project not to exceed one page per piece. Turning a page in the middle of a piece breaks a two-dimensional rule that puzzles do not break. This excerpt spans the first third of the entire work. One version of the thesis included pieces from only two storylines, but it seemed hollow, and did not represent the tone or scope of the whole. The first seventy-five pages aren’t supposed to feel complete in any way, but better represent the desired end product. ...

I am interested in works that are fragmentary, but can’t ultimately be resolved into a single, clear whole. ... At present, 200 Pieces could simply be a “regular” story cut up and shuffled. I am contemplating mixing in pages from other puzzle-novels, or perhaps omitting pieces that contain critical bits of story. The story has not yet gone this way because a resolution must be written before I can throw it out. ...

While the jumbled jigsaw structure makes the project more demanding, I wanted to write something that was easy to read and enjoy. This was one of the motivating forces behind the omniscient narrator, who, though modeled after the puzzlecutter in piece #5, does not play tricks so much as clarifies. ...

The story is not functioning as much like a puzzle—like the one described in piece #5— as it perhaps should. There aren’t instances of confusion, where a reader instinctively links two pieces that seem to fit at first but eventually do not. There is one feint I am saving for the end, but that may be the only thus far. ...

I am interested in how playing with the chronology flattens time. Almost makes it meaningless. I’ve considered making some of the events or objects progress linearly through the story, even as the chronology jumps around.

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Fiction Commons