Synopses & Reviews
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 novella, which features two Texas exiles, is set in New York City. Several of the stories deal with stars and astronomers; many feature architects and the built environment. Daugherty's characters struggle with asthma, night fears, inertia, and the sense of being isolated in a world full of people.
In "Very Large Array", a brief late-night encounter between a solitary New Mexico rancher and a visiting astronomer at the VLA radio telescope installation sparks a meditation on loneliness and isolation.
In "Magnitude", the director of a failing planetarium in north Texas tries to cope with family losses in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, and with his commitments to his patrons — the needy and homeless who use the planetarium for shelter and the schoolchildren who come to the facility for inspiration.
In "Bern", the longest of the stories, a transplanted Texan in New York, working as an architect post-9/11, considers public and private space, as well as unexpected desire, when he encounters a vital young woman on one of his evening walks.
"The lone characters in Daugherty's (Desire Provoked) 16 loose-limbed, well developed stories brave a sense of isolation as big as the arid Texas landscape they mostly inhabit. Many of these characters find themselves chafing against an unpopular decision like the architect in 'Purgatory, Nevada' who in 1945 risks losing his bride, his reputation, and his professional integrity for the 'fascinating challenge' of creating a ghost town in the desert for the Allies to test the effects of a spectacularly lethal firebombing. In the similarly smartly hewn tale 'Magnitude,' the beleaguered first-person director of the Dollman Planetarium has to break it to the visiting middle-schoolers that there is some doubt about Pluto's being a planet, sending the children into paroxysms of disappointment. A besotted young grad student hangs on disastrously to his infatuation with a stunningly manipulative girlfriend in 'The Saint,' while the drifting narrator and native of Oklahoma City in 'The Republic of Texas' finds himself back among a community of hate-filled secessionists the week after Timothy McVeigh is put to death. With their strong sense of historical context, Daugherty's stories are stirring and relevant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"I've been waiting for this book for a long time: it includes stories to explain West Texas to me. I don't mean in the fabled 'cowboy' way, but in a more useful way, more honest, and certainly braver than all the books that hordes of cowboys with typewriters can generate." Cynthia Shearer
"This is a powerful and engaging work by a wonderfully talented writer." Allen Wier, author of Tehano
"The stories in Tracy Daugherty's collection, One Day the Wind Changed
, are anxious and existentially lonely pieces. Their characters are male, many with asthma, and most living in West Texas or Oklahoma. They are 'flummoxed by the world' and wrestle with the gap between body and mind, self and society, victim and violence." Sarah Cypher, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
About the Author
TRACY DAUGHERTY is the author of four novels, three previous short story collections, and a book of personal essays. Hiding Man, his acclaimed biography of Donald Barthelme, was published in 2009. A four-time winner of the Oregon Book Award, he is Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University.