Publication Date

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Andrew Altschul


Contemporary, Novel

Subject Areas

American literature


Dovetailing is told from a limited third person point of view focused on Samantha. She is the protagonist in a group of four primary characters who include Matt, Adam, and Dylan. They are the four employees of Furniture Town and are present throughout the entire novel. Stan the Sidewinder is a local UFC fighter who is visiting his hometown (the setting of the novel), Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a promotional tour. Las Cruces is a small, shabby, and largely Catholic town near the border of Mexico.

Samantha's struggle to find her way while surrounded by underachieving college-aged men and an increasing awareness of the falseness and staging of reality to which she begrudgingly contributes during her job as salesperson, are the primary narrative arcs. A large part of the novel is spent introducing and exploring the setting of both Las Cruces and Furniture Town, since a major theme of the book is the fetishization of commodity and how this affects relationships and individual perspectives of their lives and the world in which they live.

Dylan, Adam, and Matt, although secondary characters, have their own full narrative arcs. Dylan is attempting to work through new and unexplored homosexual feelings; Adam is recently divorced and struggling to maintain a close relationship with his young son; and Matt is dealing with an injury that has forced him into a different career and caused tension in his romantic relationship with Leslie.

Ultimately, this is a story about the way real human relationships are subordinated and tainted by our relationships to the throwaway items (and jobs) of contemporary life.