Publication Date

Spring 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Nicholas P. Taylor


Music journalism, Portuguese, William Gibson

Subject Areas

Creative writing


Following the death of his father, San Francisco-based music critic Manuel “Manny” Soares is sent by his editor to Amsterdam to find the next big thing in music. Manny hopes that the physical distance from his home will help him work through his father’s passing. Manny finds himself on a late-night flight to Schipol Airport. On a layover in Frankfurt, Manny manages to cause a small riot in the airport bar and escapes. Once he makes “groundfall” in Amsterdam as his editor, Ian, puts it, Manny is on the hunt. Globalization mixed with culture shock follow him as he navigates his way through the Dutch music scene. He cannot escape the feelings of loss, which evoke memories of his survival after the long-expected earthquake in the Bay Area (colloquially known as “The Big Shake”). Manny’s chance meeting with an attractive Dutch illustrator, Femke, who is a fan of an unknown Dutch band called “Some People I Know” move the plot forward to the climax. Along the way, Manny encounters a photographer with controversial artwork and a Dutch film professor who wants to erase his own image. Following the death of a vaunted Dutch astronaut, the novella’s climax sees Manny joining a crowd of Dutch mourners. Individually and collectively, they release hundreds of paper fire lanterns into the night sky in the final cathartic scene. Simultaneously, “Some People I Know” (who are with the mourners) begin to play their music of loss and longing prompting Manny to realize that he has found the next big thing music.