Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
Turbines is a coming-of-age tale set in rural Iowa just before the wind energy boom of the early 2000s. Through the eyes of three protagonists, I deal with themes of social mobility and otherness--both relevant issues growing up in flyover country. As each character deals with their own sense of identity, they are forced together by the inescapability of small-town life.
The male teenage protagonist, Jake Lakowski, is not used to the quiet, seemingly bland landscape of the Midwest, nor is he used to the unwritten rules of a town where many of his classmates are fourth-generation residents. Always the type who blended in at his old high school in Florida, Jake stands out in Iowa. As his social life begins to flourish, he loses sight of his future.
Brette Fitch, the female teenage protagonist, deals with many of the same issues as Jake, but from the opposite perspective. Brette has lived in Iowa her whole life. Tired of a school system where only a few teachers, and even fewer students, seem to care, and, quite literally, tired of the wind turbines that surround her--she believes they cause her insomnia--Brette wants nothing more than to leave small-town Iowa behind. While Jake loses sight of his future as his popularity grows, Brette loses sight of the present as she only thinks of escaping her current circumstances.
The third protagonist, Ed Pittman, serves as the catalyst for much of the novel's happenings. Ed's own indecisiveness has lead to a life of isolation and despair. Ed is a former manager of the wind turbine project. Years ago, two of his employees did something terrible. While the guilty men were arrested and convicted of their crimes, Ed became a target for those still upset with the offense. It wasn't long before the town's harassment reached dangerous heights, which caused his then wife, Maria, to leave. Ed had the choice to go with her, but stayed, and now he wanders the streets at night, looking for a way to make everything right again.
Pillman, Nate, "Turbines" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13181.