The Monster Waves



Allen, Elizabeth

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“The Monster Waves” starts with the disappearance of Bud Zombrowski, a 4-year-old boy, on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1940, in Euclid, Ohio. Bud’s parents and his 10-year-old brother, David, are devastated by the loss of the child, their pain deepened by the uncertainty about his fate. Was he kidnapped? Did he wander too close to nearby Lake Erie and drown? With no answers, the family suffers. But the passage of time and the impact of some key events—WWII and the birth of a daughter, Josie—eventually allow the Zombrowskis to move on with their lives. David moves on too, but he is still haunted by images of his brother and the guilt that he might have done something to prevent his disappearance. At the same time, he struggles with his sexual identity, frightened by feelings he had for a young man in his past. After high school, David skips college and lands a grunt job at a Cleveland radio station. He falls in love with broadcasting, eventually landing an announcer gig, and then his own show. When his station turns to the next big thing—television—David takes advantage of the opportunities offered by this media juggernaut. He becomes a minor TV celebrity, and befriends Adam, a cameraman at the station. The men become close friends, then become lovers. David must come to terms with his homosexuality in a time when that admission could get a person fired, beat up or worse. David’s career flourishes through these difficulties, but he must make certain compromises and concessions to keep his boss happy. Twenty six years after his brother’s disappearance, on the night of a big party David is hosts as his TV persona, he meets a woman who has startling information about his brother. He sets off on a search for the truth and to come to terms with what happened that day in 1940. What he returns with forces some hard questions: Can we mend the broken parts of our personal histories? How do we know when to leave the past alone?


This thesis has been embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until April 2021.


Literary fiction, Cleveland OH, Early age of television, Gay fiction, Lake Erie, Missing persons fiction