Selections from Inventions in the Key of C
Selections from Inventions in the Key of C is a collection of essays about cancer and issues related to cancer. Books on the topic of cancer are plentiful. There are a number of narrative memoirs including The Red Devil, by Kathryn Russell Rich, and It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong. In the self-help/inspirational area are numerous books ranging from nutrition to positive thinking to navigating the practicalities of living with cancer; I believe I have noticed on the bookstore shelves Cancer For Dummies. Susan Sontag's Illness as a Metaphor looks critically at how cancer, and people with cancer are perceived, as do significant portions of some thoughtful memoirs, such as Arthur Frank's At the Will of the Body, and Ken Wilbur's Grace and Grit. This work in it's present state might be most closely compared to another collection, Anatole Broyard's Intoxicated by My Illness. Broyard, in a series of essays and journal entries, entertains a number of subjects related to his cancer: from the nature of illness, to relationships with doctors, his friend's reactions, and his thoughts on other illness-related literature. While I believe that some of my essays will stand alone and be of interest to literary readers, it is my feeling that the eventual work will appeal to an audience that is in both broader—comprised of people who read popular literature--and narrower –those who have an existing interest in cancer. The essays in this collection range in style from the personal with small amounts of information embedded in the conversation, to the journalistic merely accented with a personal sensibility. This diversity was deliberate. In terms of process, the "journalistic" pieces marked the greatest departure from my previous work and proved to be the most challenging, perhaps because in my preparation I did not find models specifically for this type of writing, which would perhaps have revealed strategies for balancing dense information and tone. For the future, I would like to spend more time reading authors who successfully present specialized material to a lay audience, especially with a first person point of view. Further development of this work would definitely include a concluding section for "Sure it's Killing Us," and I would also like add a few more personal essays for the purpose of balance. Here are some ideas: A speculation (humorous) on how the 1960's television series, Star Trek might influenced my core beliefs about gender roles and the universe, and ultimately contributed to my "cancer personality" ("Star Trek Gave Me Cancer"). A humorous/confessional essay about my "celebrity cancer curiousity," perhaps incorporating results from an informal survey of other cancer survivors and their relationship to celebrity cancer in the news ("But I'm Not a Stalker or Anything"). A personal experience/information piece about Buddhism, studies in mindscience and the pros and cons of meditation ("How Cancer Made Me a Quasi-Buddhist").
June 12, 2008.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Diane Roberts, Professor Directing Thesis; Ned Stuckey-French, Committee Member; Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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