The 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.
“Tracy Daugherty writes loneliness-emotional, spiritual, professional, cultural-as well as anyone alive. Gentle outcasts-keen observers all-populate these exquisitely made, intricately layered stories. This book reveals to us our own isolation and invites us to reach out across it; it implores us to look harder, listen close.”
“This collection seems to be Tracy Daugherty’s love letter to the characters and places no one I’ve read has gotten quite so right: with compassionate imagination and incredible artistry, Daugherty winds his way across the landscape and brings us the good news that the world is even more complicated, terrifying, and wonderful than we imagined. In each of these stories, there’s a moment in which the familiar world melts away into something greater than the sum of its parts. Here is the world and the people who inhabit it brought to us viscerally by a writer at the top of his game.”
“I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Daugherty provides answers to the question, What does geographical isolation do to the human spirit in the post-post cowboy era? The stories create a thoughtful, recursive pattern in which ordinary life is quietly amplified and ordinary objects acquire a kind of totemic quality.”