[tombstone]

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2015-05-27
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

The [tombstone] symbol is a typographical initialism used in mathematics to signify the end of a proof. It is known colloquially as the "tombstone." The stories in this collection carry both senses of the symbol. Characters not only reach the end of once-familiar systems--marriage, freedom, life, faith--but they also live in a universe where proof and certainty can no longer be taken for granted. A child who desperately wants to believe in his inherent goodness must face the possibility that he is in fact as flawed as those he scorns. A man watches his family shrink away from him after he commits a series of selfish acts. An addict's childhood, fraught with isolation, haunts her ability to heal in adulthood.

As for tombstones, these stories are obsessed with death, finality, and endings, which reveal more about a person's true self than where they began.

When asked "what is a story?", Diane Williams replied, "Can a story be a dream come true?" The stories collected here are dream-like as well, simplistic and estranged from common logics, formed from an unconscious urge to believe that there is indeed a more perfect world waiting for us in the near distance. In this collection, the hunger for wholeness persists; the possibility for a happy ending, however, remains as unlikely as rewriting one's past.

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