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Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Andrew F. Altschul


bildungsroman, boys, fiction, men, story

Subject Areas

Literature; Fine Arts; Gender Studies


This is a collection of seven short stories I have written as a graduate student at San Jose State University. It is a heavily autobiographical collection drawn from the last thirty years of my life in East Bay cities such as Concord, Benicia, San Ramon, and Dublin. This short fiction is about the lives of boys and men seeking to identify themselves, in various stages of their lives, along a continuum of maleness increasingly blurred and eroded by the reality of our time. As the eponymous story of the collection implies, the entire idea of striving to be the "Best Man" is now thought of by many as quaint and questionable at best, dangerous and chauvinistic at worst.

More broadly, my thesis is also a fictive snapshot of modern day suburban life in the San Francisco Bay Area. These stories are in the realist tradition of literary titans such as James Joyce, John Updike, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, and Anton Chekhov. These writers chronicled the perturbed boredom that so often characterizes the lives of people who reside in sleepy, safe, stable bedroom communities. I borrow and steal from these luminaries with humble acknowledgment that the light of my own stories will never shine as brightly.