My Document

Megan Downey, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


This thesis, rooted in autofiction and metafiction, consists of eight linked stories exploring aspects of post-traumatic survival in women. The narrators in this collection live in the aftermath of unaddressed trauma and abuse, and work to form identity, develop agency, and connect to the wider world.

The manuscript is grounded by the title story, “My Document,” in which a writer struggles with and resists an abandoned collection of stories called “The Gods of Fate are Boys.” The seven stories that follow represent “The Gods of Fate are Boys.”

In “Prince Night,” a woman longing for her husband’s attention ends up punching him in the face. In “Hoffa,” a woman grapples with following instructions. “Me and Eugene” depicts a woman through a chain of narcissistic lovers. In “One True Thing,” an ex-Mormon woman invites some missionaries over for dinner. “Perennial Bed” depicts a final visit between a woman, her dog, and her difficult grandmother. “Lola,” which is also described within “My Document,” explores the dynamics of a workplace friendship that strikes at a vulnerable moment in the narrator’s life. In the final story, “Stay,” a woman gives a puppy away and then goes back to retrieve it.

This collection counteracts narratives depicting abuse or trauma as one isolated and recognizable event, and challenges dipictions of survivors as damaged, haunted, and humorless.