Type of Document Thesis Author McKelvy, Ashley URN etd-04082005-151537 Title Laugher and Hope and a Sock in the Eye Degree Master of Arts Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Ned Stuckey-French Committee Co-Chair Virgil Suarez Committee Co-Chair Dr. Leigh Edwards Committee Member Keywords
- Creative Non-fiction
Date of Defense 2005-03-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractIn this collection of essays, I am looking at a young woman trying to find direction and decide what kind of woman she will be. Growing up, I have often felt like a woman of contradictions. I wanted to be tough, but not so tough that I was no longer ďpretty.Ē I was proud of being independent, but afraid of ending up alone. I wanted to travel the world as much as I wanted to find a place to call home. I began to see myself as a composite of gestures: The kind of girl who bought Gin and Tonic cologne. A girl who stole a book of Leonard Nimoyís poetry, danced on a pole she helped build in her living room, wished her life was an Aaron Sorkin script, hated Italian men but loved Italian Americans, and a girl who was as uncomfortable with her desire to date a nice guy as she was with her inability to find one.
My one reservation about writing personal essays is that it feels a little self-indulgent. I donít think these stories are important simply because they are about me. Arkansans donít often tell people how fabulous and special they are; we leave that to Texans. If anything, I think these stories are worth telling because they deal with being a young woman finding out what she is capable of and who she wants to become. These essays focus on the struggle to find a balance between child and adult, girl and woman, observer and participant, naughty and nice, which I think many women struggle with. Also, there will be jokes.
No one dies in these essays. Not that thereís anything wrong with that, but I donít typically write that kind of essay. Just as I had to find a balance in the extremes of my personality, I also seek to find the right mix of comedy and drama. Ultimately, I think humor works best when it has aspects of seriousness and there is something at stake. During the process of writing this thesis, Iíve read a lot more non-fiction in the form of essays, memoirs, and a book about corpses. My main influences remain Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, not only for their use of humor but also for their conversational tone. I also read quite a bit of Dorothy Parker in college, and I still admire her ability to combine angst and venom in delightful heroic couplets. As a film and tv junkie, I am also looking at British comedies and American dramadies, which I think blend the elements of comedy and tragedy into something that is entertaining but also has a sense of purpose. Iím looking to curve out a niche somewhere between The Full Monty and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I hope you laugh,
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