Simple, Ugly Things

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Virginia Tech


This collection of stories explores themes of race, class, gender, and alienation through a variety of settings in which the characters experience some form of displacement and are forced to find a voice within an unfamiliar vernacular. At the heart of writing, and language itself, is that desire to be heard. Thus, these stories explore voices of people whose stories are often silenced or ignored. A Latina woman recounts memories of her physical scars as she tries to communicate with an American doctor in an emergency room, a Navajo woman finds comfort by adopting her son's daughter after he is imprisoned, a young boy struggles to understand himself when his family converts to a new faith, a young woman struggles with accepting ownership of her brother's piano after his suicide, an interracial couple finds a way to communicate through art after the effects of trauma, a mortician struggles with his beliefs during bankruptcy. At the heart of the stories are issues of identity—what defines oneself, what one cannot live without, what condemns, what brings redemption. Simple, Ugly Things is a collection of short stories full of conundrums, in which the characters are forced to find the connections of past to present, the pains of memory in small, simple things, the complexity inside simplicity, beauty in the seams of ugliness, peace within horror, and strength inside humility, as a way to have their voices heard.



short stories, fiction, creative writing