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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Steven Wingate


In this project, I utilize fiction craft and theory to illustrate the link between ruralregional fiction in the tradition of Flannery O'Connor and the genre of rural noir. The project is developed around a novella-in-work, Willow Lake, which combines elements of noir narratives with the rural-regional. Chapter one will entail an analysis of Flannery O'Connor's letters on fiction craft, paying specific attention to her writing on the “moment of grace”—a specific type of literary epiphany—and the grotesque. I will juxtapose these theories with an analysis of her own short fiction. Stemming from this, I will introduce Charles Baxter's theories on the concept of defamiliarization. This technique is similar to O'Connor's grotesque, in that both involve making the familiar seem unfamiliar to the reader, and vice versa. I will then move my analysis forward to Annie Proulx, the successor to O'Connor's literary tradition. An analysis of Proulx's “Brokeback Mountain” will illustrate the importance of the literary techniques trademark to O'Connor's fiction, as well as defamiliarization, to the story's narrative. I will then illustrate the precedence of these techniques in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, a novel which bridges a noir narrative with a heavy emphasis on the rural-regional. McCarthy's work will provide the bridge to the final section of my first chapter: an analysis of two strong rural noir authors: Frank Bill and Joe R. Lansdale. The second chapter of this thesis project will consist of four chapters from my novella, Willow Lake. The first three chapters of the novella, as well as the eighth chapter, were selected in the interest of providing readers of this project with a strong crosssection of my fiction. I chose chapters that emphasize the craft and theory detailed in Chapter One, and have included a brief synopsis detailing the missing novella chapters. Chapter Three will consist of informative reflection, expounding upon the major influences that led to my creating Willow Lake. This reflection will describe elements of film, texts, and a video game: Silent Hill 2. I will bridge my discussion from Chapter One by illustrating both defamiliarization, and the epiphanic “moment of grace” within my novella. The closing two sections of this chapter will attempt to find a place for my fiction amidst both rural-regional precedents, and contemporary noir fiction.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Noir fiction
Noir fiction -- History and criticism
Regionalism in literature


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 106-108)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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