“A House of Gravel” is a short-story cycle exploring the relationships between a family of four and the hardships wrought by those relationships, as well as their own individual hardships. Partially, “A House of Gravel” explores a microcosm of trauma handed down through three generations, explored in highly-varying degrees: the grandparents, the parents, and the children. Importantly, this exploration takes place primarily from the perspective of the youngest generation, rendering the traumas of their parents to scraps and guesswork, and the traumas of their grandparents’ to further scraps handed down through their parents. Additionally explored is the nature of dependency as each member of the family suffers through or leans on both healthy
and unhealthy coping mechanisms, ranging from substance abuse to relationships with others. The family within “A House of Gravel” is one stuck in the constant throes of miscommunication and clashes, but must nonetheless learn to live and deal with one another. Their story is told in the form of the short-story cycle, a series of works that can operate individually, but also function as a single, greater whole, each story gathering greater meaning via their connections to one another. This choice of genre reflects the status of the family unit itself as a whole comprised of individual parts. Specifically, in regards to “A House of Gravel,” the structure of the cycle is reflective of the piecing together of the family member’s histories and characters, resulting in various conclusions being reached, but just as many unknowns and threads remaining
unresolved.

from Whitmarsh, Andrew, “A House of Gravel” (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 8619. Link: https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/8619

Note: This Master Thesis contains a full text short story cycle as well as an analytical part (starts at p. 155).

Direct link to download thesis: https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=9624&context=etd