Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Closed Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Theatre

First Advisor

Julie Hensley

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Second Advisor

R. Dean Johnson

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Third Advisor

Nancy Jensen

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre


Everything Broken is Waiting to Be Fixed is an Appalachian magical realism novel in stories about a boy who attempts to reconcile his childhood experiences and his family's oral history with his experiences as an adult living outside Appalachia. The book attempts to challenge readers to reexamine Southeastern Kentucky. It presents readers with enough of what they expect of the region that it feels accurate to their preconceived notions, but it should also subvert the stereotypes enough that readers realize Appalachia isn't just a haven for backwardness and ignorance. The use of magical realism allows readers to experience the pull of the region, and the absence of magic should allow readers to experience the protagonist's longing for home.

As a novel in stories, Everything Broken is Waiting to Be Fixed subverts time and uses multiple narrators as well as layered narration to recreate the feeling of oral storytelling. At times, the multiple narrators conflict or Little Walter comments on someone else's story that is filtered through his narration because many of the stories represent Little Walter's attempt to make sense of his family's Appalachian stories and determine how they might fit into or contradict the world he experiences after he leaves home. This conflicted, polyphonic narration allows the novel to question oral history, and-on some level-turns it into a book about storytelling.