Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Book Tour for Larry McMurtry: A Life

Posted on: August 24th, 2023 by Tracy

Come join me for a reading and a discussion about Larry McMurtry and the literature of the West.

September 23, 2023:  Skylight Books, Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m.

September 28, 2023:  Powells Books, Burnside location, Portland, Oregon, 7:00 p.m.

October 10, 2023:  Annie Bloom’s, Portland, Oregon, 6:30 p.m.  I’ll be joined by film historian Jon Lewis, for a discussion of McMurtry and the counterculture films of the 1960s and 1970s.

October 23, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, 6:30 p.m.

November 11-12:  Texas Book Festival, Austin, details TBA

More to come.



LARRY McMURTRY: A LIFE (September, 2023)

Posted on: May 31st, 2023 by Tracy

“One of America’s beloved literary figures gets the biography he deserves . . . McMurtry is one of our most celebrated chroniclers of the West, and Daugherty, who has already written a great biography of Joan Didion, serves up his life with skill and affection.”–Esquire, 10/26/23.

A “book of prodigious size and scope . . . [full of] countless juicy behind-the-scenes details about the literary life .”–Peter Tonguette, The Washington Examiner,  10/20/23.

“[A] staggering and detailed new biography.”–The Houston Press, 10/6/23.

“Tracy Daugherty paints a vivid picture of the novelist.  His success might be partially due to geographical affinity–Daugherty grew up in Midland, a four-hour drive from Archer City, which isn’t far at all in Texas.  But it’s also the result of dogged research and sharp analysis–this is a wonderfully absorbing book, on par with McMurtry’s own enduring work.”–Michael Schaub, The Boston Globe, 9/19/23.

“Daugherty has a good grasp of Texas literary history and the cooperation of those closest to his subject . . . fascinating.”–Bryan Burrough, The Washington Post, 10/6/23.

“Tracy Daugherty–a seasoned biographer with a gift for lively storytelling–does a fine job of evoking the early influences and forces that shaped his subject.”–Times Literary Supplement (London), 9/8/23.

“In Larry McMurtry:  A Life, a new biography by Tracy Daugherty, the author of well-received books about Joseph Heller, Joan Didion, and Donald Barthelme, McMurtry emerges as a perpetually ambivalent figure, one who eventually became part of the mythology that he insisted he was attempting to dismantle . . .  McMurtry was an inveterate road tripper who collected friends like he collected books, and Daugherty’s biography is full of entertaining cameos.”–Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 9/18/23.

“In Larry McMurtry:  A Life, a very readable and even impressive biography, Tracy Daugherty discusses all of McMurtry’s books with both authority and affection.  Mr. Daugherty is also absorbing when he writes about McMurtry’s personal life and his nonwriting literary life . . . [he] understands Houston, and he writes well about McMurtry . . . excellently captur[ing] McMurtry’s restlessness.” –Greg Curtis, The Wall Street Journal, 9/15/23.

” . . . vastly entertaining . . .  [Daugherty] rakes his material into a story that has movement; he’s a good reader of the novels; he has an eye for anecdote and the telling quote; he builds toward extended set pieces, such as the filming of “The Last Picture Show” in Archer City, McMurtry’s hometown . . . He comprehensively covers McMurtry’s long career . . . This book is a study in vocation.”–Dwight Garner, The New York Times, 9/4/23.  Cover Story, New York Times Book Review, October 1, 2023.

“Daugherty’s diligently constructed biography will provide memories for those who lived in McMurtry’s era and recall well his novels, along with the movies and series that sprang from them.  It also will undoubtedly prove fascinating to aspiring young writers and anyone determined to understand the subtleties of American history.”–bookreporter, 9/15/23.

“Daugherty . . . is a steady guide through McMurtry’s world . . . The main achievement of Daugherty’s book is to make clear that McMurtry’s deep knowledge of and frequent disdain for the state [of Texas] was a combustible mixture that fueled his writing.”–Texas Monthly, September 2023.

“In this authoritative outing, literary biographer Daugherty traces the rise of author Larry McMurtry from ‘minor regional novelist’ to Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller . . . he takes [McMurtry] seriously and the literary analysis is keen . . . This is worth saddling up for.”–Publishers Weekly, 6/22/23.

“The late Pulitzer Prize-winning Texas novelist receives a thoughtful yet appropriate critical treatment in the hands of literary biographer Daugherty . . . Daugherty, who has chronicled the lives of Donald Barthelme, Joan Didion, and Joseph Heller, is a perceptive critic . . . [and] McMurtry emerges as a well-rounded if quirky human–and certainly a memorable one.  A definitive life of the novelist.”–Kirkus, starred review, 7/15/23.

“Daugherty blends authoritative research with resplendent prose, providing absorbing detail to illuminate how McMurtry’s childhood, academic career, domestic life, and friendships shaped his personality and work.  This flowing, even avuncular portrait definitively situates McMurtry’s oeuvre in the American canon.”–Booklist, starred review, 6/1/23.

“Tracy Daugherty’s sweeping and insightful biography allows us a fascinating look into the life and evolution of McMurtry’s outsized talent.”–Chris Cooper (July Johnson in Lonesome Dove).

“Tracy Daugherty has produced a superb biography of a remarkable, complicated subject.  Larry McMurtry led a nomadic life rich with friendships, loves and widespread achievements in literature, film, family and an avid contemplation of his origins:  a difficult undertaking for his biographer who would require a capacity for literary analysis to correct McMurtry’s skepticism about the value of his own work.  Daugherty’s book will go a long way in settling McMurtry’s place in American literature.”–Thomas McGuane.

“Tracy Daugherty’s genius as a biographer lies in the extraordinary detail he is able to glean of his subject’s daily life–and then the imaginative and insightful ways he contextualizes it.  This book firmly places the man in his time . . . Daugherty’s account is as engaging a read as the best of McMurtry’s own writing.”–Madison Smartt Bell.

The Land and the Days Honored

Posted on: May 31st, 2023 by Tracy

On April 22, 2023, The Land and the Days won the Oklahoma Book Award in Non-Fiction.   I am grateful to the Oklahoma Center for the Book for this recognition, and to my editor, Kent Calder, for his support.


Posted on: December 1st, 2021 by Tracy

A new novel (published by the University of Nebraska Press, April 2022) based on the friendship between Willa Cather and Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, exploring the purpose of art and the boundaries of intimate bonds.

“I can think of few novelists who have written so unerringly about literary ambition, especially in women.  In this quietly passionate book, Tracy Daugherty follows Willa Cather and her friend, journalist and social reformer Elsie Shepley Sergeant, through their long, ardent battle over the purpose of art, a conflict waged from the most refined salon in Boston all the way to a ruined adobe hut in New Mexico.  What superb company they are, because of their differences, and what gorgeously detailed worlds they inhabit.  This is a novel with so much heart, written with such deep intelligence, that I felt wiser and more humane myself by the end of it.”–Suzanne Berne.


Posted on: December 1st, 2021 by Tracy

From the University of Oklahoma Press (January 2022):   Two overlapping memoirs, addressing fundamental questions:  How does individual consciousness develop?  What can music, art, and literature teach us about life’s experiences?  Is there a soul?

“With beauty and grace, Tracy Daugherty ‘scratches at the mysteries of self, mind, soul’ in this powerful work of nonfiction.  Part memoir, part intellectual investigation, part elegy, The Land and the Days rewards on so many levels.  Daugherty illuminates the forces of homesickness and yearning, how we want to think our way to a comprehension of death, the aching grip with which the past and the places and people we’ve loved hold us.  A Beautiful testament.”–Rilla Askew.


Posted on: December 1st, 2021 by Tracy

A new novella collection from Broadstone Books (December 2021), considering the lives of poets and poetry.

“With sharp, beautiful concision, Tracy Daugherty’s new novellas, like the best of poetry, invite you into a labyrinth of human consciousness.  Here are the days and nights that poets actually live, where they encounter the experiences that make and mark the language of their poems . . . As with all his previous fiction, Daugherty gives you a generous understanding of the sublime qualities of his characters.”–David Biespiel.

“Has any American fiction writer ever written about the inner life of the poet more revealingly than Tracy Daugherty?  In the three novellas of Snow and Straw, Daugherty balances numerous angles of inquiry to render the contrariant impulses that give birth to high literary art . . . [His] achievement is to demonstrate how, for each of the authors in these stories, writing itself assumes a priestly function, granting temporary absolution so that the writer can go on in the world.”–Kevin Clark.

“How–and why–does one become a poet?  What of fate and desire compels a person to live so intimately, and often at great personal cost, with words?  In language both gorgeously lyrical and emotionally precise, Tracy Daugherty offers a stunning cache of poet-world surprises–homages and biographies, cameos and incarnations, maps of literary meccas, retellings of literary lore . . . and so much more.  Poets will recognize the life-and-times recounted here, but every reader will be taken in by the insights and revelations in these stunning novellas.”–Lia Purpura.

“A compelling voice drives each novella, they are supplely crafted, and the language very often leaps with vibrant, unapologizing heart . . . Daugherty convincingly evokes the lives of poets because he is one, writing in prose.”–John Daniel.




Posted on: August 17th, 2020 by Tracy

A new novella–hailed as a distilled American epic, reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show–published by Red Hen Press in October 2020.

“Daugherty’s engrossing latest . . . focuses on the small community of Midland, Texas in the late 1950s, as it reels from severe weather, Cold War paranoia, and school integration . . . illuminating . . . adept . . . a stark, memorable outing.”–Publishers Weekly, 8/12/20.

Follow the link to a reading from High Skies at the Portland Art Museum, 2020:



Dante and the Early Astronomer

Posted on: May 31st, 2019 by Tracy

Published by Yale University Press in April 2019, Dante and the Early Astronomer is an exploration of the evolution of astronomy from Dante to Einstein, as seen through the eyes of trailblazing Victorian astronomer Mary Acworth Evershed.

“In an extraordinary new book about Dante (and much else) by Tracy Daugherty . . . the heroine is not Beatrice Portinari, but an Englishwoman from Plymouth named Mary Acworth Evershed . . . Far from being a straightforward biography, this book interweaves its subject’s multiple journeys–geographical, intellectual, emotional–with snapshot summaries of topics rarely brought together, including Indian nationalism, solar science, Christian dialectics, relativity and Virginia Woolf.  Daugherty’s style is lyrical verging on whimsical . . . the sections sourced from original letters and diaries are vivid, revealing not only an exceptional woman, but also insider details of what actually happened on field trips–the disasters, quarrels and disappointments not recorded in official reports.”–Patricia Fara, History Today, July 2019.

“This book looks into Mary Evershed’s work on [Dante] within the context of her life, introducing astronomers to Dante’s work and Dante scholars to astronomy . . . a story well worth telling.”–BBC Magazine, August 2019.

“The story of Mary Acworth Evershed (1867-1949) is a reminder that every once in a great while someone can carry on a career with one foot planted in each culture [the sciences and the humanities] . . . In recalling Mary . . . from the shadows, Daugherty shows us someone not at all distracted by ‘any gulf of mutual incomprehension’ between the two cultures, and for that she . . . deserves [attention].”–Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, 6/7/19.

“At first glance, it seems an odd pairing of topics:  In what way could Dante, the 14th-century poet, be linked with astronomy?  But to my delight Tracy Daugherty–essayist, novelist, and biographer of Joseph Heller and Joan Didion–has uncovered a small gem within the history of astronomy.  Along the way, readers become acquainted with the British romantics, Australian aboriginal astronomy, the folklore of India, and brief lessons on the sun’s energy production and Einsteinian physics.  ‘Dante and the Early Astronomer’ is an eclectic and engaging look at the Victorian and Edwardian ages, from the perspective of minor-league astronomers working in the hinterlands.”–Marcia Bartusiak, The Washington Post, 5/24/19.

Dante and the Early Astronomer left me with pages of notes filled with newly discovered facts and previously unconsidered concepts, as well as ideas for further thought, and half a dozen books to be sought out and read.  It also left me with the knowledge of not only the existence of Ms. Evershed but a lively portrait of her life.”–The Well Read Naturalist, 5/23/19.

“Daugherty . . . combines literary analysis, history of science, travel writing, and astronomy to tell the story of Mary Evershed (1867-1949), a pioneering female astronomer fascinated with the poetry of Dante . . . [he] does an impressive job of capturing the intellectual history of a fascinating woman who crossed disciplines and centuries of astronomical advances during her lifetime.” –Publishers Weekly, 4/8/19.

“Tracy Daugherty brings Evershed to life.”–Nature, 5/8/19.

“In Daugherty’s wonderfully inclusive fusion of history, science, and literary criticism, the work of a most unusual woman comes alive in its true context.  An entrancing read.”–Andrea Barrett.

“A creative tale of time travel that connects the obsessions of a brilliant young woman and her celestial love affair with the sublime poetry of Dante.  Daugherty poignantly captures Mary Evershed’s sense of excitement, persistence, and dedication to observational astronomy while tracing her extraordinary intercontinental life journey.”–Priyamvada Natarajan, astrophysicist.


Order the Book you Need to Read Now More than Ever: Leaving the Gay Place: Billy Lee Brammer and the Great Society

Posted on: May 21st, 2018 by Tracy

Brammer’s story “is ably told by Tracy Daugherty, himself a fiction writer and well-regarded biographer . . . Mr. Daugherty paints a persuasive picture of a young man as an ambitious novelist, feeling the frustration, in draft after draft, of trying to get a book exactly right.”–Jeffrey Frank, The Wall Street Journal, 12/29/18.

“[B]ooks are like wild strawberries.  You need to clear away the overgrowth and search a little to find the sweetness and the best.  Consider, for instance . . . Leaving the Gay Place by Tracy Daugherty.  The man behind the great American novel about politics and politicking”–Michael Dirda, The Washington Post “Best Books List,” 11/28/18.

A “fascinating portrait” of Billy Lee Brammer in “Tracy Daugherty’s superbly gauged and powerfully evocative new biography . . . Daugherty is too brainy and imaginative a writer to settle for decline-and-fall pathos . . . He’s the sort of biographer who leaps at chances to amplify an era’s social, cultural, and political history . . . Leaving the Gay Place is a good book about Billy Lee Brammer and a great book about the ’60s.  Daugherty’s most artful achievement is the poetry and resonance  he finds in [Lyndon] Johnson striving with might and main to make the Great Society real, only for Vietnam to do him in, at the same time that Johnson’s one-time factotum, at the cost of dissipating his literary gifts, is coming to epitomize a different America entirely.”–Tom Carson, Bookforum, Dec/Jan 2019.

“Brammer and his book . . . called [by Calvin Trillin] the best American novel about politics written in the 20th century . . . are likely to attract a fresh round of attention with the publication of Tracy Daugherty’s Leaving the Gay Place . . . Daugherty casts a fresh and insightful eye on Billy Lee as well as the politics and culture of America from the early 1950s until Brammer’s death at age 48 in 1978 . . . Some of the best sections of [the book] concern how Brammer’s interactions with [Lyndon] Johnson helped shape The Gay Place . . . Daugherty recounts Brammer’s saga and the times in which he lived in compelling fashion, which makes Leaving the Gay Place one of this year’s best nonfiction books about Texas.”–W. K. Stratton, The Dallas Morning News, 11/4/18.

“Thankfully, the literary biographer Tracy Daugherty has [written] a comprehensive and compelling account of a life lived by a unique character against the backdrop of a tumultuous era . . . [Brammer] was something of a Zelig-like figure, someone who witnessed seismic changes in American culture, often in the company of figures like Timothy Leary, Janis Joplin, and a young woman . . . who Brammer was astonished to learn was sleeping with President John F. Kennedy at the same time that she was bedding down with him.  If something important happened during Brammer’s adult life, he most likely witnessed it or knew someone involved in it or had something incisive to say about it.”–Mark McKinnon, Texas Monthly, 10/19/18.

“Tracy Daugherty’s extensive and long-overdue biography of Brammer is part poetic ode, part oral history–and always a wild ride . . . a strong, clear biography (with shades of rock ‘n’ roll memoir) . . . The story rolls along with some Brammerian lyricism, lending the book an intermittent sense of painterly detail . . . Brammer . . . is a good subject . . . and Daugherty is a worthy storyteller . . . The themes of modernity, of fractured politics and fights both within and between ideological groups certainly feel relevant . . . Most of all, Brammer’s is the tale of a changing nation.”–Andrew Roush, The Texas Observer, 9/12/18.

“A political and pop-cultural view of midcentury America in relation to the enigmatic life of a Texas-bred political journalist and novelist.  Outside of Texas and certain literary circles, Billy Lee Brammer may not evoke the cult recognition shared by his contemporaries such as Ken Kesey or Tom Wolfe.  In this entertaining and colorful new book, fiction writer and biographer Daugherty goes a long way toward elevating Brammer’s status.  He also offers a generous glimpse into the political and personal life of Lyndon Johnson . . . An engrossing, well-documented biography of a largely forgotten writer and his place within a quickly changing period of the 20th century.”–Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW, 7/31/18.

“This look at the life and times of Billy Lee Brammer, journalist, LBJ staffer, pill popper, and author of The Gay Place, a well-received 1961 novel, is thorough and intriguing . . . Daugherty benefits from having a star-studded cast to work with.  The widely varying famous people surrounding Brammer at different times include LBJ, JFK (the two shared a girlfriend), Janis Joplin, Ken Kesey, and Jack Ruby . . . Adding to the story’s Zelig-like quality, Brammer even happened–allegedly–to have been among the reporters standing nearby when Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald . . . The book benefits from input from Brammer’s daughters and ex-wives . . . [a] life . . . notable as an example of a talented life gone awry . . . “–Publisher’s Weekly, 7/17/18.

Tracy Daugherty’s new literary biography, about a remarkable man you must come to know, is available now for ordering at Powell’s, Amazon, and from the University of Texas Press.  Leaving the Gay Place:  Billy Lee Brammer and the Great Society tells a story that runs from the halls of power in Washington, D. C. to the back rooms of America’s rock ‘n’ roll venues.  It follows Billy Lee, our wayward American son, from LBJ’s office in the U. S. Senate building to Janis Joplin’s crash pads in Austin and San Francisco–from psychedelic flights in the heart-broken Heartland to the alleys of self-destruction.  Billy Lee Brammer wrote what many critics have called the finest American political novel, and he worked for a man that, in so many ways, predicted our current political atmosphere.  To understand now, you need to know then–through the eyes of Billy Lee.  Order your copy now:


Let Us Build Us a City

Posted on: February 17th, 2017 by Tracy

Let Us Build Us a City, published by Crux:  The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction, 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.

“[This is] the kind of book that you read slowly.  The kind of book that invites travels of the mind . . . On its surface, this is a collection of essays of literary criticism . . . but the essays go far beyond that.  As Daugherty muses about Hawthorne’s old houses, Dante’s imaginative cosmology, and the patterns of our thoughts as we dismantle the lives of our dying loved ones, he explores the nature of creative practice and its place within American culture.  How the act of creation contains, within it, the possibility of failure.  About the role of liberal arts education in our culture.  And ultimately, how we create and build our community.”–Connie Bennett, KLCC, National Public Radio, 8/3/18.

“Drawing from some of the most influential writers and thinkers of the twentieth century, Daugherty poses questions that face anyone engaged in the arts today.  These thoughtful, deeply considered, and provocative essays encourage the reader to engage with the unknown, to embrace ‘the mystery and power of creating new worlds,’ and to take part in building what Daugherty calls ‘a creative and imaginatively generous society’–exactly the sort of society we should all aspire to.”–Peter Turchi.

“Tracy Daugherty has worked up . . . a miracle:  a Baedeker to the city of storytelling.  Amid the confounding boulevards and alleyways of fiction, Daugherty’s guide is like nothing else out there, rangy and profound . . . The journey always proves fascinating, whether the landmarks are Dante or Sherwood Anderson, Ptolemy or Grace Paley.  An essential text for anyone susceptible to the magic of stories long or short.”–John Domini.

American Originals

Posted on: February 17th, 2017 by Tracy

A new collection of novellas and stories:  “Daugherty’s fiction leaves us dry-eyed and wiser in that place far beyond tears that we know from our own lives.”–Shelby Hearon.

Outwitting the expected

Posted on: January 8th, 2016 by Tracy

In the Winter 2015 issue of The Georgia Review, Benjamin Woodard offers a thoughtful review of THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD.  Here is an excerpt:  Daugherty “is keenly aware of the tropes associated with the crises his protagonists navigate, and he makes a conscious effort to outwit the expected.  The result is a collection that chides . . . genre as much as it embraces its tone and trappings . . . darkly funny . . . [with] sly cross-purposes . . . THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD deserves to flourish–both for the countering [narrative] moves it makes and for its own fine writing.”

THE LAST LOVE SONG: A Biography of Joan Didion

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Tracy

St. Martin’s Press, August 2015:  A New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Seller.  One of the “Best Books of 2015″:  Kirkus, San Francisco Chronicle.  The #1 Northwest Book of the Year, 2015”:  Portland Oregonian.

“It is rare to find a biographer so temperamentally, intellectually, and even stylistically matched with his subject as Tracy Daugherty, author of well-received biographies of Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller, is matched with Joan Didion; but it is perhaps less of a surprise if we consider that Daugherty is himself a writer whose work shares with Didion’s classic essays . . . a brooding sense of the valedictory and the elegiac . . . The Last Love Song is not a conventional biography so much as a life of the artist rendered in biographical mode . . . Many passages in [it] read with the fluency of fiction, and the particular intimacy of Didion’s fiction . . . We feel that we are reading about Didion in precisely Didion’s terms . . . It is warmly generous, laced with the ironic humor Didion and Dunne famously cultivated.”–Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books, 10/8/15.

“Mr. Daugherty . . . does an agile job here of examining how his subject’s life illuminated the eras she traversed (and vice versa) . . . this thoughtful and ambitious biography remains focused on Didion’s writing, using her life to shed light on her highly autobiographical work . . . [the] biography evinces a deep appreciation of her skills and idiosyncrasies, and an understanding of how writers like Conrad [and] Hemingway . . . helped her forge her singular style . . . Mr. Daugherty expertly dissects Ms. Didion’s preoccupation with narratives.”–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, 8/18/15.

“Tracy Daugherty delves into the wellspring of Didion’s character with a responsible and generous willingness to examine her life, trace her intellectual and creative development, and transmute what he finds into larger insight not only on what made Didion a great writer but on what it means to be one, both for the writer and for the society whose collective memory she or he reflects, preserves, and shapes . . . [in passages] marked by the sort of elegant rhetorical acrobatics reminding the reader of the writer’s presence, Daugherty dissects [Didion’s] singular technique[s] . . . Daugherty accomplishes precisely what he sets out to do.”–Maria Popova, “BrainPickings,” 12/12/15.

“Daugherty’s . . . biography gives us a full, vibrant picture of Didion . . . [his] primary interest here is in Didion’s work–in the writing itself . . . Daugherty’s ability to parse [her] evolution is itself noteworthy:  he treats [her] contradictions less as evolutions towards the ‘correct’ or ‘final’ worldview, than as moments in a life lived with contradictions . . . [T]he brilliant trick that Daugherty manages to pull off in ‘The Last Love Song’ [is that by] weaving Didion’s life and her work into a coherent, unified narrative, he resuscitates her middle period–precisely the work that most explicitly resists the coherent and the unified . . . Daugherty’s book ultimately succeeds because of his ability to see Didion not as an immutable icon of cool, but as someone whose ideas and whose writing shifted constantly, radically.”–Colin Dickey, The Los Angeles Review of Books, 8/23/15.

“Didion . . . would [be], at least for many biographers . . . too terrifying to touch.  Fortunately, Daugherty, a fiction writer and essayist, knows exactly how much pressure to apply.  [An] excellent and exhaustive book . . . [an] intrepid and meticulous biographer . . . ” Meghan Daum, The Atlantic, 8/10/15.

“Daugherty has defied W. H. Auden’s assertion that ‘biographies of writers are always superfluous and usually in bad taste’ . . . he has constructed a tome to a literary icon . . . a studied and studious analysis of Didion’s comprehensive life and literary history . . . Few are as well-suited to this task as Daugherty, a much-acclaimed and roundly lauded literary biographer.”–The Oregonian, 8/30/15.

The Last Love Song “[is] a large continent . . . The book passes through its own weather systems, from a crisp intro, depicting the youth of its subject, Joan Didion, in Sacramento, California, during the 1930s and 40s, through her fecund early working years in Manhattan and on into the hot, gritty, apocalyptic dog days of 1960s Los Angeles, whose bard Didion became.  Then comes the greying climate of late middle age . . . The Last Love Song [also] features a steady stream of historical signposts . . . explained in considerable depth.”–Laura Miller, The Guardian, 8/15/15.

“Few writers have been so intent [as Didion] on impressing upon us the illusions of self-deception, the delusions of nostalgia and memory.  What more could there be to say?  And so it’s a happy surprise that the first biography of Didion to appear . . . is so compelling.  Daugherty . . . focus[es] . . . on the extraordinarily rich reverberations between his subject’s life, work, and the shifting social and political sands of her time . . . [he] understands the paradoxes at the heart of Didion’s allure . . . forthright and sensitive reporting . . . What Daugherty does exceptionally well is conjure a psychic atmosphere, grounding our understanding of Didion. “–Megan O’ Grady,, 8/20/15.

” . . . a magisterial, extraordinarily sympathetic new biography . . . Daugherty practically establishes a psychic connection with Didion . . . Every aspect of Didion’s life and work is pondered thoughtfully . . . the book is fleet . . . and . . . persuasive . . . “–Peter Tonguette, The Christian Science Monitor, 8/25/15.

“Yesterday, I finished The Last Love Song . . . The biography was a crash course in what had made me fall in love with Joan Didion’s style in the first place . . .  [Daugherty] wrote a splendid book without her help and it’s my theory he wouldn’t have learned that much about her if she had granted him full access . . . “–Pat Conroy,, 10/22/15.

” . . . [an] encyclopedic biography . . . an intense examination of Didion’s carefully-controlled work . . . Daugherty successfully illustrates the intricate ways Didion has both responded to and also helped create the culture about which she writes . . . [he] has managed to portray a magnificent life by scouring her work, interviewing distant friends and old colleagues . . . But the genius of the biography comes from Daugherty’s ability to uncover in these sources a narrative that is compulsively readable.”–Jill Dehnert, The Brooklyn Rail, 9/8/15.

“Recommended”–Bret Easton Ellis,, 10/1/15.

“Tracy Daugherty gives us a meticulously researched biography of Didion that functions as both an exploration of late 20th century American cultural values, as well as an incredible insight into the life of an extremely talented woman of letters.”–J. P. O’Malley,, 9/7/15.

“Tracy Daugherty has the confidence to write an unauthorized book on a living person that trawls not just for gossip (though there’s plenty on Didion’s mostly charmed life and its late unraveling) but for connection and, ultimately, meaning.”–New York Magazine, “Twenty-five Things to Hear, Watch, and Read,” 9/7/15.

“Daugherty has previously written indispensable biographies of Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller . . . Of all living writers–Didion will be 81 in December–Joan Didion has been in the uppermost tier of those crying out for a truly great literary biography . . . We needed this book–and a literary biographer as good as Tracy Daugherty–to understand . . . the novelist who first traduced America in 1970 with her second novel ‘Play It As It Lays,'”–Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News, 9/8/15.

“In his elucidation of Didion’s development, Daugherty offers a detailed coloring-in of the self-portrait Joan Didion has drawn in her autobiographical writing.  It confirms the achievements of her career and celebrates the experience of reading her exacting prose.  ‘The Last Love Song’ is a smart and gratifying book that gives us Didion’s world and brings us closer to her way of seeing it.”–The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/23/15.

” . . . at its core [The Last Love Song] provides an indispensable guide to understanding not just the value of Didion’s contribution to American literature, but how she pulled it off.  Among the pleasures of Daugherty’s portrait is the light it sheds on Didion’s literary education . . . one comes away from The Last Love Song with a renewed sense of how rare true talent is, what a gift it is–for the bearer, and for her audience.”–The Millions, 8/24/15.

“Succeeds in adding a remarkable texture and density to Didion’s own, often airless, self-reflections.  Daugherty . . . understands the literary and cultural milieu in which Didion’s fractured first-person prose found an audience.”–Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, 8/30/15.

“Tracy Daugherty captures Didion’s anxious journey . . . a compelling story.”–The Washington Post, 8/30/15.

” . . . a combination of painstakingly detailed research . . . and astute literary criticism . . . [Daugherty] has a firm, clear grasp on [Didion’s] writing–how it evolved, how it fits into (and helped shape) the landscape of American literature, how her language illuminates her worldview . . . the book conjures as vivid a picture of this living legend as we are likely to get.”–Entertainment Weekly, 8/14/15.

“Daugherty is an excellent researcher . . . [he] has to be credited with an honest attempt to turn everything about Didion–her life, her work, the events that influenced everything around her–into a coherent narrative . . . an intelligent look at Didion’s work.”–National Public Radio, 8/25/15.

“Daugherty delivers rigorous research . . . to determine whether ‘the life reveal[s] the art, or the art the life’ . . . [he] gives us . . . excellent literary criticism and painstaking detail about her personal life . . . [he] grounds our understanding of the writer in her background.”–The Daily Beast, 8/23/15.

“Both the suffering, imperfect human being and the detached, cerebral author come through in The Last Love Song, a clear-eyed, respectful biography.”–Columbus Dispatch, 8/30/15.

” . . . [a] hefty but engaging biography . . . Daugherty defends Didion as a humanist covering the gamut:  politics, art, history, war, you name it.  The portrait is of a writer who, as one critic said, ‘chooses to speak in her own person’ . . . ‘[f]acing it–always facing it–that’s the way to get through.'”–San Francisco Chronicle, 8/19/15.

” . . . intelligent and elegant . . . “–Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 8/24/15.

“A comprehensive, absorbing look at the life of iconic author Joan Didion . . . by a top-notch biographer.”–Good Housekeeping, 9/15.

“If you want a taste for what it was like to be a high-flying journalist at the apex of the New Journalism and a lauded screenwriter during a Hollywood golden age, or if you just want to know the gossip behind all the troubled marriage innuendoes haunting The White Album, then this is your book.”–Vulture, 8/24/15.

“[Daugherty] nails the ways in which history and culture shaped a writer who returned the favor.”–Boris Kachka, Vulture, “Books You Need to Read,” 8/5/15.

“[E]xcellent . . . Daugherty’s resume as a writer–he is an award-winning novelist and a biographer of Joseph Heller–makes him an ideal biographer of Joan Didion.  He ‘gets’ Didion–the melancholy, the hypochondria, the depressions accompanied by daytime drinking.”–National Review, 8/5/15.

“This biography of Joan Didion by critically acclaimed biographer and novelist Tracy Daugherty will doubtless be a big buzz book this season.”–Biographile, “Required Reading,” 8/3/15.

The Last Love Song . . . compile[s] reams of facts . . . Daugherty’s analyses of the ouvre are apt.  Didion lovers, of whom there are many, will find it enjoyable . . . “–Seattle Times, 8/23/15.

“Reads like a work of fiction.  And Daugherty, whose excellent Hiding Man surveys the life and works of semi-recluse Donald Barthelme, is well-positioned to trace the public vs. private paradoxes of Didion’s life without killing the mystery.”–Flavorwire, “Must Read Books,” 8/4/15.

” . . . a thoughtful, highly readable account.”–Christian Science Monitor, “10 Best Books of August,” 8/4/15.

“The nearest thing to a biopic in book form, [The Last Love Song] opens with a Romantic vision of the West . . . [and] gets interesting when it turns to Didion’s early career.”–The New Republic, 7/21/15.

“Daugherty with his novelistic narrative power and historian’s grasp of details has the ability to give a compelling fresh look at Didion . . . Daugherty’s books are part of a new golden age of literary biography.”–Southern Bookman, 8/3/15.

“In this engrossing biography of exceptional vibrancy, velocity, and perception, Daugherty astutely elucidates Didion’s ever-evolving artistic explorations and political critiques as she interrogates the meaning and ‘intelligibility’ of literature and life.  He also portrays this intensely candid, searching writer as endlessly hardworking, brilliantly innovative, and as sensitive as a tuning fork or divining rod, trembling with the intensity of it all, perfect in pitch, stunning in revelation.”–Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW, 6/1/15.

” . . . [a] humdinger of a biography of Joan Didion . . . “–Chicago Tribune, 6/4/15.

“Tracy Daugherty biography of Joan Didion irresistibly readable.”–Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter, 5/26/15.

“Tracy Daugherty puts writer Joan Didion under the microscope.”–Time, “Summer’s Top Titles,” 7/6/15.

” . . . the first major biography of Joan Didion . . . is a very hefty book about her . . . there is sure to be further interest in her story:  as the modern novelist who best made ennui sexy; as the tough social critic and political essayist whose pieces take no prisoners; as the wife and parent who has endured such terrible losses; and as the shrewd Hollywood power player, no more noble than any of that breed.  This book has room for all that . . . “–Janet Maslin, “Cool Books for Hot Days,” The New York Times, 5/22/15.

“It might be easier to capture a unicorn than to pin down the almost-mythological Joan Didion, whose intricate prose and enigmatic persona have long bewitched her admirers.  Daugherty, brave soul, has written a big, unauthorized biography that explores the life, work and influence of this brilliant writer and social critic whose character is as contradictory as America itself.”–Cathleen Medwick, “The Hot Five:  Books to Make the Season Sizzle,” More, Jul/Aug 2015.

The Last Love Song is a great example of non-fiction that reads like fiction.  Daugherty deliberately respects the privacy of the reclusive journalist Joan Didion, instead journeying back in time to follow Didion’s growth into adult life.  Touching interviews provided by those who know Didion well help make this biography into a loving tribute to a great literary figure.”–Emma Oulton, Bustle, “11 of Summer 2015’s Best Non-Fiction Books,” 6/4/15.

“Even if you’ve read ALL of Didion’s work, you will find yourself impossibly immersed in this intense look into Didion’s life as a writer and brilliant human.”–

“From the 1960s through the 1980s, Joan Didion, now 80, was the best recorder of American traumas, arguably better than Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, or any other New Journalist.  Daugherty . . . may be the ideal writer to chronicle her life and achievement . . . Didion[‘s] . . . critical vision is best captured obliquely, in fractured images that convey a feeling of unease without proof of its cause:  the real narrative of the times is hidden behind appearances . . .  A strong biography.  Who won’t want to read this ‘hot’ book?”–Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW, 5/1/15.

“An eloquent work on the life of Joan Didion, fashioning her story as no less than the rupture of the American narrative.  Didion’s works of fiction, nonfiction, and journalism relentlessly probed the times in which they emerged.  In this wonderfully engaging biography, Daugherty . . . wisely sticks to Didion’s near obsession with making sense of an increasingly incoherent narrative during the tumultuous decades of the waning 20th century . . .  A dogged biographer elicits from Didion’s life much more than tidy observations of ‘morality and culture.'”–Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW, 5/6/15.

“Having proven his chops as a biographer, Daugherty’s new book tackles the behemoth task of writing a biography of Joan Didion, one of the most well loved essayists and writers of our time . . . Daugherty pays tribute to a career and life well spent.”–Entertainment Monthly, 6/12/15.

“Daugherty is known for delivering notable biographies of literary lions, including Joseph Heller.  Here he takes on the queen of the lionesses.”–Allen Salkin, The New York Daily News, 5/3/15.

“The first serious biography . . . of the supremely talented and critically acclaimed writer Joan Didion covers everything from her sunbaked Sacramento youth to her days with husband and frequent co-writer John Gregory Dunne.”–Entertainment Weekly, 5/15/15.

“Daugherty . . . offers a monumental, novelistic examination of Joan Didion’s life and career.  The book’s impressively detailed attention to place, beginning with Didion’s California origins, grounds Didion’s development as both a fiction writer and journalist who served as ‘our keenest observer of the chaos’ of the 1960s and beyond . . . settl[ing] into confident, engrossing prose when focusing on Didion’s literary achievements . . . Daugherty crafts a complex, intricately shaded portrait of a woman also known for her inner toughness and intellectual rigor.  This landmark work renders a nuanced analysis of a literary life, lauds Didion’s indelible contributions to American literature and journalism (especially New Journalism) and documents a ‘style [that] has become the music of our time.'”–Publisher’s Weekly, 4/6/15.

“The talented Daugherty sympathetically recounts Didion’s rise to preeminence as a writer, her marriage to John Gregory Dunne, and the incredible loss she suffered when her husband and their only child died within the same year.”–James McGrath Morris, The Washington Independent Review of Books, 2/20/15.

THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD, new story collection, November 2014

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Tracy

As part of its prestigious Poetry and Fiction Series, Johns Hopkins University Press has published the new story collection THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD.

“In this new collection, Tracy Daugherty is the maestro of middle age, and his recurrent character, Bern, is an everyman of modern times.  Daugherty writes with great skill, empathy and humor of Bern’s travails and longings.  THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD is a superb book of stories that will burnish Daugherty’s already formidable reputation as a contemporary master of short fiction.”–Greg Johnson

“While Tracy Daugherty’s intricate, intriguing, and interconnected stories in THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD are relentlessly narrative they invoke Donald Barthelme’s observation that collage is the art form of the century.  These rich fictions are amalgams, jeweled aggregates, beautiful breccia that sculpt the word, matrix by matrix, into lyric concreteness.  Like Barthelme, Daugherty works the leading edge of this gorgeous junk phenomena, transforming these complex meditations of our states of being into wholly new and sublime states of matter.”–Michael Martone

Back Catalog Available as E-Books

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Tracy

Dzanc Books has made available, as e-books, the novels DESIRE PROVOKED, THE BOY ORATOR, and AXEMAN’S JAZZ, as well the short story collections THE WOMAN IN THE OIL FIELD, IT TAKES A WORRIED MAN, LATE IN THE STANDOFF, and ONE DAY THE WIND CHANGED.  You may order the books at


Posted on: August 8th, 2011 by Tracy

“No one who isn’t a truly great literary biographer would have any business at all going near the life of Heller.  It is a mark of our current wonderful literary fortune that we have at work in 21st century America two literary biographers working different regions of the same late 20th century literary landscape with equivalent brilliance:  Blake Bailey, author of biographies of Richard Yates and John Cheever, and Daugherty, who has now written definitive biographies of Donald Barthelme and Heller.”–Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News, 8/6/11.

“Mr. Daugherty has produced the definitive life of Heller, a stringent portrait of the man embedded in a panorama of his era.”–James Camp, The New York Observer, 8/2/11.

“[A] fine biography of Heller.”–Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review, 11/27/11.

“Daugherty, who just last year published a terrific biography of Donald Barthelme, delivers another compelling work upon the 50th anniversary of Heller’s most important book, ‘Catch-22.'”–Kansas City Star, TOP 100 BOOKS of 2011, 12/2/11.

“It is the rare biographer who can craft a cinematic narrative out of uncooperative real life . . . Tracy Daugherty, author of the Donald Barthelme biography ‘Hiding Man,’ proves again in ‘Just One Catch’ that he is that rare biographer, one who possesses journalistic integrity and appeals to readers of fiction and nonfiction alike.  Daugherty thoughtfully probes Heller’s work and interior . . . But the author also swivels the camera past his subject at the world around him.  What emerges is not simply a portrait of an artist, though it is a brilliant one, but also a literary history of post-World War II America and a deeper rumination on the state of literature and writing in an absurd world.”–Claire Fuqua Anderson, Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW, 8/16/11.

“Daugherty combines a novelist’s flair for character and narrative with astute critical analysis of Heller’s work.  He’s especially strong on context, providing the political, literary, personal, and broader cultural milieu in which each of Heller’s books was produced.  Daugherty’s . . . rigorous book is a Heller-worthy smorgasbord.”–Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post, 8/18/11.

“Tracy Daugherty’s ‘Just One Catch’ is a large literary biography, rich with anecdote.  Daugherty is an accomplished fiction writer, and much of his book reads like a novel.  There are some wonderful verbal touches . . . such writing eggs me on to read more Daugherty.”–Seth Lerer, The San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21/11.

“Each page is a joy for fans of big-picture breakthrough creativity.  Daugherty highlights Heller’s genius for sensing trend shifts, such as from the old fogey 50s to the swinging, sexy 60s, from Ike to JFK.”–Tom Dodge, The Dallas Morning News, 8/7/11.

“Tracy Daugherty has written a remarkable biography of Joseph Heller, one that tells us not only about the man but about the world that made him . . . this is a moving portrait of the author.  The greatest measure of the merit of a literary biography is whether or not it instills in the reader a desire to read more of the writer’s work, or to re-read the author’s work with a better understanding.  That is the most intimate acquaintance we can hope to make, and Daugherty’s biography of Joseph Heller, a fine literary work itself, does just that.”–Burbank Library Blog, 9/20/11.

“The thrill of this biography is in the years and months leading up to Heller’s breakout book . . . Mr. Daugherty is an evocative writer and an astute literary critic.”–The Economist, 10/8/11.

“[An] excellent biography . . . A fine writer himself, Daugherty is at his best when evoking the worlds Heller inhabited through the course of his life:  Coney Island in the 1930s, the Catskills in the 1940s, the Manhattan literary scene and Heller’s East Hampton retreat from it in the 1980s and 1990s.”–Jewish Book World, Fall 2011.

“[A} comprehensive biography . . . .While Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead) and James Jones (From Here to Eternity) published bestsellers on the war, Heller quietly wrote the novel that was to eclipse them both.  Daugherty is at his best at depicting how he set out to write a very different book than his realist contemporaries, one whose slapstick style and fragmented structure would capture the lethal idiocies of war.”–Stephen Amidon, The London Sunday Times, 10/9/11.

“From Daugherty we learn the facts . . . Daugherty traces the development of Heller’s style, which was part literary, part Borscht Belt spiel, and aimed entirely at the mass market.”–Ian Sansom, The Guardian, 11/17/11.

“For those interested in a discussion of Heller’s life and legacy that traces his place in a generation that included Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, James Baldwin, Grace Paley, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, and Jack Kerouac, Tracy Daugherty’s biography of the man does the job well.”–Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, The Washington Times, 11/25/11.

“For Tracy Daugherty . . . the experience of combat is key not just to Heller’s most justifiably celebrated novel but to the comic mindset that would invent at least a few of the terms by which 20th-century America could begin to process and understand itself . . . Daugherty makes it impossible to deny the influence of not just the Marx Brothers but also the rhythms of Yiddish theater and Borscht Belt humor on Heller’s writing.”–Akiva Gottlieb, Tablet Magazine, 11/28/11.

“The principal achievement of Daugherty’s JUST ONE CATCH is documenting the extent of [Robert] Gottlieb’s handiwork [with CATCH-22].  The question the book raises, making it more valuable than other conventional literary biographies, is how many other classic books were the result of similar teamwork.”–Richard Kostelanetz,, December 2011.

“This first biography of Heller . . . is especially good on his finances and on the making of the film of Catch-22.”–Jeffrey Meyers, Literary Review, 10/1/11.

“‘Just One Catch’ . . . will be sought out by ‘Catch-22’ fans as it details the genesis of the book that had such a profound impact on Vietnam-era America.  Daugherty documents how Heller, who flew 60 bombing missions during the Second World War, shunned the realism of contemporaries like Norman Mailer and James Jones to write a different ‘war novel’ by combining black humour and dark horror to capture the true nature of mass slaughter.  It’s worth revisiting.”–Andrew Donaldson, The London Sunday Times, 10/11/11.

“Given the stature of Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’ . . . it’s surprising that a comprehensive biography of the author didn’t surface sooner.  Fortunately Tracy Daugherty has filled this yawning gap.  ‘Just One Catch’ has countless insightful, amusing anecdotes from Heller’s childhood, military service and postpublication notoriety.  But the writing, publishing and ensuing aftermath of ‘Catch-22’ is the clear focal point . . . This biography is a welcome occasion for examining not only Heller’s achievements but the way they anticipate predicaments in which America currently finds itself.”–Elizabeth Nelson, TimeOut New York, 8/5/11.

“Mr. Daugherty’s book is more than an academic investigation of Heller’s work, and he brings the skills of an accomplished biographer to unearthing the sometimes painful episodes of his subject’s life . . . It’s a well-told story that will more than satisfy the countless admirers of Heller’s work, while introducing others to his fascinating life and career.”–Harvey Freedenberg,, 8/6/11.

“In riveting detail, Daugherty describes Heller’s tour of duty as a bombardier stationed in Corsica . . . A highlight of this biography is the journey of Heller’s satiric classic from conception to delivery.”–Ariel Gonzalez, The Miami Herald, 8/7/11.

“Daugherty has done his research.  He has talked to everyone who knew Heller and immersed himself in the history of postwar American publishing . . . [He] is adept at probing Heller’s relationship with his ethnicity.”–Morley Walker, The Winnipeg Free Press, 8/6/11.

“In ‘Just One Catch,’ his reconstruction of the life of Joseph Heller, Tracy Daugherty has also illuminated the post-World War II culture of American fiction–from the emergence of Jewish sensibilities as a key narrative element to the influence of mass advertising and television to the corporatization of book publishing.  It’s about time for such a comprehensive biography.”–Edward Morris,BookPage, 8/1/11.

“‘Just One Catch’ shows the path Heller took to become the man who could write the novel and where he went from there.  Daugherty is good at explaining the evolution of Heller’s writing career.”–Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times, 8/21/11.

“In ‘Just One Catch,’ the first biography of the last of a certain type of lion, Tracy Daugherty shows us an artist whose triumphant iconoclasm set in motion his own extinction.”–Walter Kirn, Slate, 8/2/11.

“Daugherty has managed a prodigious feat of research . . . [he has] a real feeling for Heller’s work and the odd jumble of influences that led to it.  Daugherty is often perceptive about Heller’s place in the larger culture.”–Blake Bailey, The New York Times Book Review, 8/28/11.

“Daugherty is undaunted . . . he feels that his biography might just gin up some excitement around an author whose most popular book is now 50 years old.  ‘I think we’re at a time right now where art is being questioned, and literature’s power is being questioned, so the main thing I want is for younger readers to see literature as an ongoing, very powerful art form,’ Daugherty said.  ‘People like Heller and [Donald] Barthelme took it very seriously, and did make changes in the way people thought.  We haven’t lost that.  If we lose it, it’s because we’re doing it to ourselves, it’s not because the form has lost its power.'”–Kevin Canfield, Salon, 8/14/11.

“Daugherty is an accomplished writer . . . [His] exploration of Heller’s handling of success is a leitmotif in ‘Just One Catch.'”–John Strawn, The Oregonian, 8/7/11.

“Heller’s zest for life animates this astute character study of the man behind the masterpiece ‘Catch-22,’ which drew on combat experiences (and moral quandaries) that had haunted the novelist since WW II.  In spite of the title, there’s no catch.  You’ll love the vibrant personality who set the irony bar high for the 60s.”–AARP, September/October 2011.

“Biographer Daugherty calls Heller’s debut novel ‘the bible of American black humor’ . . . [its] title became an indispensible part of our lexicon.”–Deirdre Donahue, USA Today, 8/1/11.

“The first important biography to arrive about Heller . . . Mr. Daugherty’s book ultimately rekindles great interest in Heller’s work.”–Janet Maslin, The New York Times, 7/28/11.

“Literary biographer extraordinaire Daugherty traces the slow brewing of Heller’s now-classic satirical war novel ‘Catch-22’ . . . Brilliantly detailed and constructively analytical, Daugherty’s groundbreaking portrait of the prophetic, contradictory, and essential Joseph Heller is dramatic and revelatory.”–Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW, 6/1/11.

“Daugherty has a natural feel for the texture of Heller’s worlds, both physical and cultural . . . Essential reading about a writer whose major novels continue to command attention.”–Kirkus, 6/1/11.

“Daugherty serves up a breezy, entertaining, and well-researched biography worthy in tone and scope of his subject . . . an adroit portrait of the artist who dared to bring a humorous sensibility to the tragedy of modern warfare.”–Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW, 5/16/11.

“Daugherty paints a memorable portrait on a large canvas.  The result will be as profitable for newcomers to Heller as for the well-versed.”–Library Journal, 6/15/11.

Vanity Fair,THE PARIS REVIEW, The Diane Rehm Show, Library of America

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by Tracy

The August 2011 issue of VANITY FAIR magazine contains an adaptation of the Joseph Heller biography JUST ONE CATCH.  Entitled “The War for CATCH-22,” it can be found at

THE PARIS REVIEW’s daily website includes an essay about the writing of JUST ONE CATCH.  Entitled “The Angel of Forgetfulness,” it can be located at

To listen to NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, featuring a conversation with me and Erica Heller, link to .

The Library of America’s blog site features my post on the 50th anniversary of the publication of CATCH-22.  It can be located at


Posted on: June 28th, 2010 by Tracy

 “[The book] puts [Daugherty’s] distinctive Texas sensibility on full display in a variety of forms . . .  a wide range in terms of length [and] also in narrative structure and technique . . . the [stories] are written in a taut, colorful prose style in which few words are wasted and the language used is rich in perception and insight . . . Taken as a whole, this is a masterful collection by an abundantly talented writer.”–Greg Johnson, The Georgia Review, Winter 2010 

“The lone characters in Daugherty’s . . . loose-limbed, well-developed stories brave a sense of isolation as big as the arid Texas landscape they mostly inhabit . . . With  their strong sense of historical context, Daugherty’s stories are stirring and relevant.”–Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[Daugherty’s] writing and vision of our spiritual poverty is impressive . . . the stories’ objective is . . . to demonstrate loneliness[;] they succeed beautifully, thoughtfully and evocatively.”–Sarah Cypher, The Oregonian

“For anyone, [Daugherty’s] characters will resonate.”–Maggie Galehouse, The Houston Chronicle

“Tracy Daugherty’s new book collects 16 disturbing, cerebral stories . . . They vary in length and intent, but all involve characters easy to overlook, yet interesting to know . . . Often humorous . . . [they frequently] touch . . . on a troubling real-life event that haunts one of the characters . . .  Certain motifs reappear.   More than once, characters have difficulty breathing, from asthma or maybe from a lack of something essential.  Architects build careful environments, only to have them knocked down.  Astronomers and other scientists–actually ordinary people–probe the universe.  Daugherty’s stories tend to be interior and thought-provoking, while offering touching pictures of lonely folks.”–Anne Morris, The Dallas Morning News

“A dreamy boy who suffers from asthma, studies architecture, and solaces himself by looking up at the stars in the night sky, appears in many of these luminous short stories.  West Texas is his home, but homelessness is his state of mind . . . catastrophes that flatten landscapes [are referred to] . . . but he is a builder, who can design new structures.  He knows that great cities wax and wane and wax again.”–Barbara Fisher, The Boston Globe

“The desert is a vast, empty place–or is it?  Daugherty reflects on the desert, using it as a metaphor for the emptiness of life and the search for something more.  Profound and thoughtful, Daugherty gives readers a lot to expect and enjoy . . . leading to a fulfilling read that will be hard to put down.”–Midwest Book Review, REVIEWER’S CHOICE

“Daugherty’s stories are finely crafted and multi-layered.  He is bold in his exploration of a variety of forms and has an eye for evocative detail and an unerring ear for . . . dialogue.  There are occasional flashes of humor and touches of whimsical fantasy as well, despite the often somber atmosphere.”–Robert Woltman, The Albuquerque Journal

Dancin’ with Don B in Madison Square Park

Posted on: June 28th, 2010 by Tracy

On July 22, 2010, in New York’s Madison Square Park, the National Book Foundation hosted a celebration of Donald Barthelme’s work, “A Strange Object Covered in Fur Which Breaks Your Heart.”  I moderated the discussion/reading which featured Stacey D’Erasmo, David Gates, and Emily Barton.  About seventy people came to share their enthusiasm for Barthelme’s fiction, including his youngest daughter, Katharine (“Born Dancin'”) whom I was pleased to see after so many years.  Thanks to everyone who came, to Stacey, David, and Emily for their generosity and insight, and to Leslie Shipman of the National Book Foundation for giving us the opportunity to celebrate and have so much fun on a pleasant evening in NewYork City.

“Barthelme would undoubtedly be pleased with [his] first full-scale biography, Hiding Man, a genuine literary masterpiece penned by his former student, Tracy Daugherty.  One cannot read this book without recognizing that Barthelme was the dominant writer of his generation or that Daugherty will be one of the leading literary biographers of his own”–Jacob M. Appel, Rain Taxi, Winter 2009/2010.