Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Kardos, Michael

Committee Member

Pierce, Catherine

Committee Member

Hagenston, Becky

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of English


In her book The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing, Margot Livesey uses the phrase "the hidden machinery" to refer to two different aspects of novel making: on the one hand, how certain elements of the text characters, plot, imagery work together to make an overarching argument; on the other hand, how the secret, psychic of life of the author, and the larger events of his or her time and place, shape the argument (29). To me, the interconnected craft elements of fiction remains an ongoing enigma. I will delve into the hidden machinery of two authors with whom my own stories feel in alignment, Claire Vaye Watkins and Denis Johnson. Specifically, I will argue that Watkins subverts reader expectation and compose stories that are raw and peculiar and beautiful. Denis Johnson writes with such masterful control of voice, and expertly navigates unreliable narrators throughout his stories.