Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
The Pure Products of America is a story collection based in Omaha, Nebraska, that primarily deals with issues of PTSD, familial relationships, and what it means to be Korean-American in Omaha.
The stories cover various points of view as well as modes of storytelling. Three of the pieces are slants on monologues, while the remaining three are told in a more traditional narrative form. One of the stories is told in the second person, one in the first person plural, and another in an omniscient third-person point of view.
Linguistically, the stories take inspiration from the work of Barry Hannah in that they deal with a curt, elliptical language that's a direct reflection of Omaha in the same way Hannah's work is a direct reflection of Alabama and Mississippi. Equally, the stories take aesthetic cues from the work of David Foster Wallace in that some of the monologue forms play with an essayistic tonal quality that veer toward a search for meaning.
Content-wise, it was important for The Pure Products of America to deal directly with issues that affect who I am, today, in 2011. How does one deal with close friends who've come back from Afghanistan and are grappling with PTSD? How did growing up a second-generation son of immigrants help form me? How did living in Omaha, a cultural hub of back broke, self-starters inspire me?
This thesis is the beginning of a long, hard deep-digging drive toward self-reflection that I feel writing should engender.
Kwak, Gene, "The Pure Products of America" (2011). Graduate Masters Theses. 51.