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How to clean a heart




Brousard Norcross, Elena, author
Levy, EJ, advisor
Ausubel, Ramona, advisor
Ipsen, Annabel, committee member

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In this short story collection, How to Clean a Heart I have included eight stories that represent the work I've achieved during my MFA, but also evidence for how I've expanded as a writer. My stories have gone from either collisions of the fantastical and the real, to stories that consider the world and wider contexts. But, my writing will forever be personal and a way to exorcise trauma and grief where I cannot other places. In Mikayla's Ghost, a girl who lives in her dead parent's house takes in a not-so stranger and waits for love's return. In The Foal, Jess must confront how grief has separated her and her dad after a drifter murders her pet foal. How to Clean a Heart concerns Ira and Sage, two young people who love and care for each other but because of their traumas are unable to fully connect. Laurie considers metaphysical, religious and feminist questions of being, the story loosely based on a missing persons case in the Fox Valley. In Ampere, a man made of wood feels love for the first time and it makes him question his purpose in life and his "othering" in society. Little Ghost follows Nenana who returns to her hometown where she first learned her place in the world, something she has been trying to forget ever since. Archaeology for Beginners takes place in the near future, where the last survivors of an economic and environmental apocalypse track what they believe to be the boot prints of Cowboy, 25 as they name him. What follows raises questions of why they are truly making up stories about tracks in the dirt, and how we make meaning at the end of the world. Phases continues looking towards the future where the earth is spinning faster, causing a multitude of changes and chaos in the world. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Magnolia finds a way to accept that the world and all she knows, is ending.


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