Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Degree Name

Creative Writing (Fiction)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

David Gates

Commitee Members

Kristin Dahl Horejsi, William Kittredge


Alaska, Boron, California City, Child Protective Services, Christianity, hot springs, Mojave Desert, mountain lion


University of Montana


California City is the beginning of a novel. The narrator, Jane, returns to her hometown in the Mojave Desert upon the death of her close friend’s child. The town was established in the 1950’s when a developer acquired land and built a town that he believed would become California’s next big metropolis. A population of 9,000 people inhabits the town now, but paved roads stretch out for 200 square miles. Land-wise, it is second in size only to Los Angeles. Jane and her friends used to believe in a brand of Christianity that emphasized miraculous healings and resurrections. Her friends are praying that the child will be raised. Jane spends time with her parents and old friends and recalls the strange stories of the people she knew in California City. Also included are three short stories: “Up Birch Creek,” “Tree’d,” and “Married.” Each of these takes place in Montana. In “Up Birch Creek,” a 30-year-old restaurant hostess returns to the place where her family homesteaded. In “Tree’d,” a young girl goes mountain lion hunting with strangers. In “Married,” a young married woman begins to lose her mind after some pencil lead becomes lodged in the skin of her infant daughter.

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