Greg Rickard

Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Katharine Rodier

Second Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


This work is divided into four parts, each having its own tone while contributing to the work as a whole. To emphasize this dual purpose, I chose to title each part with a phrase that both reflects the pieces included within it and contributes to the statement which underscores the thesis: “Follow me my son, beyond the truth of day to day, where redemption hides behind each fleeting smile, and damnation awaits with open arms." Though the reader will immediately notice that this statement contains contradictory aspects, upon closer perusal, he will find that both redemption and damnation are tempered-if not transformed-within their individual contexts.

This ambiguity is not unintentional; life is full of ambiguity, as is love, hate, goodness, evil, etc. As are the Theater of the Absurd and Postmodernism, this work is both a product of and commentary on a chaotic world.

I opted for the genres of the short story, essay, and poetry not only because their varied lengths help to pace this work, but also for the qualities intrinsic to each: the poems afford me a chance to look at life in all of its horror, madness, and beauty, to share what I think I understand, and to strive to understand what I don't; the essays allow me to experiment with form, use humor, and-at times-write on a more personal level; the short stories enable me to explore the world and my imagination, to describe what I create and / or observe in detail.

The content of each part is as follows:

Part One-Follow Me My Son: This segment sets the tone for the entire work; it consists of humor ("Driving Me to Drink"), dark subjects (“Thanksgiving”), the bizarre (“Tony the Lawn Slug"), etc. As 'follow' suggests-there’s more to come.

Part Two--Beyond the Truth of Day to Day: The second part sticks mainly to the surreal; much of it is, indeed, beyond the truth and routine of life. "Marsden Went First”, for example, reads like a scary campfire story. Works like “Beyond the Black,” and “Axanio” are places somewhere in my imagination.

Part Three--Where Redemption Hides Behind Each Fleeting Smile: Most of these pieces offer hope-though it’s often tainted or even negated. I think that's what life is like much of the time; it gets your hope up-only to let you down that much harder. A lot of times a wrong choice can change everything; “The Backwoods Kid” is a perfect example. “Jesus of Lakin” is based on a personal experience, though it seemed more unreal than real at the time; in fact, it still does. I know it's rather on the dark side, but who in his right mind is going to fail to put this piece in a segment entitled “Where Redemption Hides ... “ ?

Part Four--And Damnation Awaits With Open Arms: The final segment deals entirely with the dark side of life. These works reflect a seriously bad time in my life; there ain't a lot of humor here, folks. "My Sweet Rosemary” came out of one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I wrote it, thinking about the unbearable loss of a close family member. To this idea, I decided to burden the main character with a nasty hangover and a situation I pray nobody reading this will ever have to face.


Creative writing – 20th century.

Creative writing – Fiction.