Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

Degree Level





Padma Viswanathan

Committee Member

Toni Jensen

Second Committee Member

John Walch


Short Fiction


Always on the Clock is a partial collection of stories centering around the working lives of men and women in Houston, Texas, that explores failed notions of the American Dream. Houston, my hometown, is not perfect by any means, but, given its cultural diversity, I do find it to be the perfect backdrop for the struggles my characters face as they yearn for better versions of themselves, however unattainable their desires may be. This is all to say that Always on the Clock is a satire of American obsessions and culture—work and upward mobility, public education, sex and relationships, parenting, etc. Much in the same way Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout created a lens to view racial inequality via satire and parody, it is my hope that Always on the Clock creates a lens for readers to view the shortcomings of America in the twenty-first century, as I believe by doing so I can help break the bootstrap myth that has been handed down to us from generations past. It is also my hope that these stories will eventually reach a readership of people who aren’t necessarily writers, but a readership of people who, for whatever reason, don’t regularly read. I’m well aware that, as writers, our competition is not just other writers, but also other forms of media, whether that’s television, film, social-media, or what have you. So, yes, I am a writer of literary fiction, but I am also a writer that understands the limitations of writing that prioritizes literary aesthetics over entertainment, humor, and relatability. Most of all, it is the voice of Houston and of its many people that I am attempting to capture in my work.

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