Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Creative Writing Program

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Deidre McNamer

Commitee Members

Andrew Smith, Brian Blanchfield


junkyard, novel, South Carolina


University of Montana


Unhinged by his inability to accept the fact that his son drowned a year ago, Fritz the Balloonatic, once the Southeast's preeminent balloon twister, has lost everything: his wife, his home, even his moniker. So now Fritz is living in a living room he has arranged in some South Carolina scrub woods, in a clearing that’s crowded with stuff that he has salvaged. His only plan for the future is to sell what he has accumulated someday, thereby raising enough money to get his life going again. But when Ransacked opens, Fritz’s effort is undermined: everything he has gathered and sorted is stolen by James, a twenty-nine-year-old stoner and junkyard owner who has just been kicked out his mom’s house and who now has nowhere to live. Ransacked tracks these two characters over a couple of eventful days, as Fritz pursues James and James inadvertently evades him. They stumble through the flea markets, bars, pawn shops, strip clubs, swimming pools, and other unseemly locales of Columbia, South Carolina, each seeking the same thing: something to find. Fritz tries to recover his former life and discovers that he’ll have to invent a new one. James alienates everyone and finds that all he really wants is to disappear so that someone will seek him. Ransacked is this story, as told by an unnamed narrator who knows both Fritz and James and who’s in jail for attempting to kidnap his own kid. As he charts the progress of Fritz and James, the narrator describes his own conflicted history with family and home and tells the story of his attempt to recover some kind of love.



© Copyright 2011 Theodore Louis McDermott