Jameson, Andrew Lake
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This dissertation is a collection of short stories that explores interrelated topics such as family, responsibility, and personal growth. The Introduction provides insight into my composing processes as a creative writer, primarily through an extended analogy—my comparison of writing and reading fiction to no limit hold „em poker. I reveal how the nuances of this game, particularly any interactions with fellow poker players, are similar to the shading and tracing of fictional characters, situations, and devices. Telling a story and bluffing your opponents are both means to the same end: creating a believable lie based on experience, intuition, and skill. Ultimately, however, this Introduction does not tell anyone “how” to read this collection but simply reminds us of the ways in which the smallest details can make an impact in transforming a mundane moment into something memorable, even life-changing. Each of the stories in this collection presents characters on a journey of some sort, whether figurative or literal—more often, both. For example, in “Samaritan,” the first story in the collection, a boy‟s thirty-mile walk to his uncle‟s house leads a delivery man to contemplate his own life‟s journey while helping the boy reach his destination. Many of the characters are searching for something, but they have not yet reached the point in their lives at which they can name or imagine it. These intangibles are key in stories such as “Debts,” “Possessions,” and “The Distances Wear on You,” among others. In “Objects Awaiting Motion,” Les struggles with his own search for meaning but eventually seems to find it in suicide, leaving his wife and children “awaiting motion,” at the cusp of their own journey without him. Finally, the title of the collection, “Travelers,” comes from “Just Act as Normal as Possible,” in which the narrator reflects upon his father‟s difficult journey through addiction, rehab, and recovery: “You had the look of a traveler who had been away from home for a long time.” All these travelers, sooner or later, experience the commonplace and the extraordinary, the burdens of life and its joys, as they grope toward their destinations.