Document Type



Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Creative Writing

First Advisor's Name

Les Standiford

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Julie Marie Wade

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Donna Weir-Soley

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Fiction, Nonfiction

Date of Defense



THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN is an autobiographical novel that covers the years from 7 to 17 in the life of Shane McFarlane, who struggles to overcome the effects of his inner-city environment and an addict father in and out of incarceration. The title is a metaphor for the decaying presence of the narrator’s father in his and his older brother’s life and the resulting consequences of that absence.

With the narrator’s father in prison, new threats emerge, including his mother’s ruthless boyfriend and his brother’s attraction to the allure of fast money. The narrator must ultimately make decisions governed by his fear that someday he’ll end up incarcerated just like his father. Desperate for an escape, he buries himself in sports and academics in hopes of earning a scholarship, his ticket out of his environment.

The novel opens in second person, but soon makes a transition to first person past tense, allowing the reader to gain a heightened level of intimacy with the characters much like in Junot Diaz’ novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao or in John Edgar Wideman’s novel Sent for You Yesterday, where young narrators struggle with life altering discoveries.

Carlos, a mail carrier, and Mrs. Cathy Williams, a teacher at the local high school, become key voices in the “village” who help Shane navigate the chaos in his life. As Shane conquers his fear of becoming yet another statistic of his environment, he learns the importance of allowing others to be there for him and listening to the positive influences around him.


The Death of Superman



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