English, Department of


Date of this Version

May 2006


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Major: English
Under the Supervision of Dr. Jonis Agee
Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2006
Copyright 2006 Cynthia L. Struloeff.


This Is My Idaho is a collection of short stories set in or around the fictional town of Eagle City, Idaho, in southeast Idaho near the borders with Montana and Wyoming. There is a wildness in this part of the world, circled by high, unforgiving mountains, that resonates within the people there. The characters of this collection must hammer out their lives against this landscape. Some, like Mary in “What the Good Is,” and Ginny in “The Sugar Shell,” feel the mountains as a kind of barrier between them and the rest of the world and yearn to escape. Others, such as the curator for the Philo T. Farnsworth television museum in “Evidence,” go to the mountains looking for answers. And some, like Colleen in “Silvertip,” and Andy in “Andy’s story,” are forced to confront the harsh way Idaho shapes them into the people they will grow up to become.

The writers who influenced this collection, especially Elizabeth Bowen, Carol Bly, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Jane Smiley, were committed to giving us truth through a sense of place. As Welty says, “Location is the ground conductor of all the currents of emotion and belief and moral conviction that charge out from the story in its course,” and Idaho, in this sense, proves to be fertile ground. But this collection in more than a book about people from Idaho. It is about the way we all, against the obstacles of nature and love, must come to define ourselves as something born out of and separate from the places we come from.