Author Archive

High Skies

Posted on: August 17th, 2020 by Josh

High Skies Cover

High Skies recounts the collision of devastating weather, Cold War suspicion, tense race relations, and the unintended consequences of good intentions in a small West Texas town in the 1950s, changing the futures of the families there and altering their perceptions of America. At the center of this perfect storm is Raymond “Flyboy” Seaker, a respected military veteran, now the vice principal of a school in which Troy, who tells the story, and his disabled friend Stevie will have their lives upended forever.

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Dante and the Early Astronomer

Posted on: June 1st, 2019 by Josh

Explore the evolution of astronomy from Dante to Einstein, as seen through the eyes of trailblazing Victorian astronomer Mary Acworth Evershed. (more…)

Leaving the Gay Place: Billy Lee Brammer and the Great Society

Posted on: October 23rd, 2018 by Josh

Acclaimed by critics as a second F. Scott Fitzgerald, Billy Lee Brammer was once one of the most engaging young novelists in America. “Brammer’s is a new and major talent, big in scope, big in its promise of even better things to come,” wrote A. C. Spectorsky, a former staffer at the New Yorker. When he published his first and only novel, The Gay Place, in 1961, literary luminaries such as David Halberstam, Willie Morris, and Gore Vidal hailed his debut. Morris deemed it “the best novel about American politics in our time.” Halberstam called it “a classic . . . [a] stunning, original, intensely human novel inspired by Lyndon Johnson. . . . It will be read a hundred years from now.” (more…)

Let Us Build Us a City

Posted on: February 16th, 2017 by Josh

LET US BUILD US A CITY reads like a master class on writing as practice, while performing a deep reading of art and life and looking to discern why liberal education matters so much to our society. At its core, this is a work of cultural and literary history, combining memoir (of the author’s experiences as a student and teacher of literature and writing) with analysis and speculation. Daugherty exploits a variety of forms to explore literary apprenticeship and mentoring, philosophy, politics, metaphysics, and American history. A stirring defense and timely renewal of our national literary vision. (more…)

American Originals

Posted on: February 16th, 2017 by Josh

The novellas and stories in AMERICAN ORIGINALS convey the power of the desert to swallow people—literally, through the rituals of labor, or through the raptures of ecstatic vision induced by blessings or madness—and people’s ability to forge connections in spite of extreme conditions. Each piece in this thematically-linked collection assumes a unique shape, whether poetically compressed, echoing (only to break) the contours of mystery stories, or redolent of the forms of classical prayer. The characters here learn, sometimes the hard way, the truth of T.S. Eliot’s insight that the “end of all our exploring” in life is to “arrive where we started” and to know, for the first time, who we really are. (more…)

The Last Love Song

Posted on: May 26th, 2015 by Josh

The Last Love SongJoan Didion lived a public and private life with her late husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, whom she met while the two were working in New York City while Didion was at Vogue and Dunne was writing for Time. They became wildly successful partners when they moved to Los Angeles and co-wrote screenplays and adaptations. Didion is well-known for her literary journalistic style in both fiction and non-fiction, and for The Year of Magical Thinking, a National Book Award winner shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, which dealt with Didion’s grief after the loss of her husband and daughter. THE LAST LOVE SONG takes readers on a journey through time, following a young Didion in Sacramento all the way to her adult life as a writer. (more…)

The Empire of the Dead: Stories

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Josh

Empire of the DeadIn the spare and deliberate stories in The Empire of the Dead, through situations both comic and bluntly melancholy, characters weigh their indecision against the consequences of choice. Through a series of five linked stories, we meet Bern, a New York City architect yearning for a return to “first principles”–the “initial euphoria, the falling-in-love” that led him to consider a life devoted to sheltering others. In his ministrations to colleagues and friends, his memories of magical building feats now in the past, he learns the limits and breadth of joy and need. In another tale, we meet a young painter in a Gulf Coast refinery town struggling to differentiate beauty from affliction. (more…)

One Day the Wind Changed: Stories

Posted on: June 10th, 2010 by Josh

One Day the Wind ChangedThe sixteen stories in Tracy Daugherty’s fourth collection of short fiction explore American deserts-real geographical spaces as well as metaphorical areas of emptiness and possibility. The stories are mostly set in the desert Southwest, though the concluding long story, which features a Texas exile, is set in New York City. Several of the stories overtly deal with stars and astronomers; many feature architecture and the built environment; most all describe the star-studded skies of the West. Daugherty’s characters struggle with asthma, night fears, inertia, and the sense of being isolated in a world full of people. (more…)

Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme

Posted on: June 9th, 2010 by Josh

Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald BarthelmeDuring the heyday of American letters in the early 1960s, a time when modernist writers such as Hemingway and Faulkner were still revered as giants of literature, Donald Barthelme broke with tradition and arguably became the father of the American postmodern movement. This is the first major biography of this important figure. It is a beguiling, sumptuous, and intimate portrait of an American master. (more…)

Late in the Standoff: Stories

Posted on: June 8th, 2010 by Josh

Late in the StandoffIn these four stories and a novella, Tracy Daugherty focuses on unresolved conflicts among family and friends. In Late in the Standoff, the stories ask, What are the limits of intimacy? How can we really know each other? What happens when the lines between deception and honesty become blurred? The standoffs in Tracy Daugherty’s third collection vividly demonstrate that even politics is a kind of family squabble whose elusive solutions often come from unexpected quarters. (more…)

Axeman’s Jazz: A Novel

Posted on: June 7th, 2010 by Josh

Axeman's JazzA stunning tour de force, Tracy Daugherty’s fourth novel explores the volatility of race, class, and economics as they affect three generations of a Houston, Texas family, and traces the rise and decline of an inner city neighborhood from the point of view of a prodigal daughter, as Telisha Washington returns after many years to renew old ties and come to terms with her family’s enigmatic heritage. (more…)

Five Shades of Shadow: Essays

Posted on: June 6th, 2010 by Josh

Five Shades of ShadowSpeaking with survivors of the Murrah building bombing, revisiting his Texas and Oklahoma roots, and retracing the paths of exile and migration in the American West, Daugherty creates a diverse and heartfelt portrait of America in an uncertain time-its people, its politics, its music, and its poetry-a sobering but ultimately hopeful view of the national community. At heart an exploration, from an intimate vantage point, of the consequences of violence in contemporary America, Five Shades of Shadow will hold special resonance for readers struggling to come to terms with trauma and loss. (more…)

It Takes a Worried Man: Stories

Posted on: June 5th, 2010 by Josh

It Takes a Worried ManThe stories in Tracy Daugherty’s second collection move through the streets of Houston with the quick step of country music and the melancholy humor of the blues. Romance and friendships develop in unlikely places, as people meet across the divides of race and class. In the tradition of James Joyce’s Dubliners, Daugherty’s stories explore the highs and lows of city life with its messiness and grace, celebrate the surprises and contradictions of community, and present a kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary America’s energy and vitality. (more…)

The Boy Orator: A Novel

Posted on: June 4th, 2010 by Josh

The Boy OratorChildhood innocence and political ambition meet just prior to the First World War in the person of Harry Shaughnessy, an Oklahoma farmer’s son. Gifted with a booming speaking voice and a charismatic presence, the boy learns the socialist credo from his father, who takes him on the road, from laborer’s camps to county fairs to Oklahoma City. Daugherty seamlessly integrates historical figures-Eugene Debs, Oscar Ameringer, Kate O’Hare-into the compelling fictionalized tale of his own real-life grandfather’s struggles for American workers and his inevitable disillusionment with the defeat of the socialist cause. (more…)

The Woman in the Oil Field: Stories

Posted on: June 3rd, 2010 by Josh

The stories in this timely collection range from intimate family portraits to broader pictures of art and culture and politics. From the sometimes humorous predicaments of the American gender wars and domestic change, to class conflicts, to artistic innovation with its personal costs, to the horrors of the Stalinist period and the more recent Middle Eastern wars, the twentieth century’s violent history haunts these stories. (more…)

What Falls Away: A Novel

Posted on: June 2nd, 2010 by Josh

What Falls AwayTilton, Nevada is not your average little community. Though the Cold War is over, the Atomic Diner still features Fallout Burgers. Underground explosions still shatter the night. Years of testing have poisoned the ground-and some of Jon Chase’s neighbors. As he and his wife, Peg, try to protect their young children, Jon, an idealistic arts commissioner, faces his own inner struggles. Timely and compassionate, this novel-based on real events-asks important questions: What do people do when changing national priorities eliminate their life’s work? What new values will the country embrace, and who will decide? (more…)

Desire Provoked: A Novel

Posted on: June 1st, 2010 by Josh

Desire ProvokedForty-one-year old Sam Adams makes maps for a living, but he can’t find the right route for his own life. His wife has left him, there’s a mysterious figure prowling around his backyard, and his boss is demanding he falsify maps for the benefit of real estate speculation. Even his young children abuse him, with embarrassing questions and obscene exclamations. With this inventive, ingenious novel, Tracy Daugherty has carved a distinctive niche for himself in contemporary fiction. The prose style is strikingly original, an inspired blend of slapstick and metaphysics. (more…)