One Day the Wind Changed: Stories

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Overview

“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

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 ...

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Overview

“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

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.

“This is a powerful and engaging work by a wonderfully talented writer.”—Allen Wier, author of Tehano

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870745591
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press
  • Publication date: 4/7/2010
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 31, 2013

    "He was thin, this fellow, but I could see after twenty, th

    "He was thin, this fellow, but I could see after twenty, thirty years under crackling lights staring at screens was going to soften and settle him into something like a pudgy human anthill."




    One Day the Wind Changed by Tracy Daugherty is a collection of short stories, some previously published in professional journals. Daugherty was born in Midland, Texas and is the author of three other collections of short stories, two biographies, a book of essays, and four novels. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Southern Review and many journals. Currently he is a Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University.




    Short stories, for me, have been hit or miss. Most, unfortunately, are a miss. I tend to be overly optimistic about short story collections thinking they would be perfect to read at lunch, on the train, or when I have a few minutes. The optimism dies quickly as the stories soon sound like a casual acquaintance telling me how his day went. This collection was a bit different. Concentrating on the desert of the Southwest and my adopted home town of Dallas, Texas brought a bit of familiarity and mutual understanding. Oklahoma City and quick story in New York City are also included in this collection, although even the NYC story involves Texas. The historian in me enjoyed the Irish connection in the Texas stories. The immigrant Texan in me enjoyed the rather typical, “You're a Texan. What the hell does Ireland matter to us.” 




    Stories range from a Dallas Planetarium struggling to keep its funding, A Very Large Array (radio astronomy) in the desert, and an older man from Texas, now living in New York City. The wind changes in all our lives and that theme is carried through the book. The Murrah bombing is mentioned in a few stories and the changes that parallel in people's lives. Changes in New York City after 9/11 run parallel to changes a middle aged man is learning about himself. There are changes seen from leaving home and returning years later. Changes in relationships. The common theme through out is that change is constant but sometimes we have to take time and stop to see it. 




    Daugherty captures changes in people's lives in a variety of settings with the Southwest as a constant theme throughout the book. His use of Dallas in several stories caught my interest. From Southern Methodist University, Mockingbird Avenue, and the airports, Dallas seems to come to life. The use of the desert provides a stark contrast to the changes people experience in the stories. The desert is unchanging. Even rain cannot change the desert for more than a few moments. This collection of stories, tied together with common themes, is a hit. So few collections of short stories seem to work for me; this one does. An outstanding collection of short stories and a collection I will keep to read again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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