The novellas and stories in
American Originals convey the power of the West Texas desert to swallow people--literally, or 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 Texas of AMERICAN ORIGINALS becomes the landscape of strife and hope, struggle and love, lost and found.
The characters in the stories and novellas 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. Saints and sinners, and the blurred lines between them, drive these spare narratives set in the plains and deserts of Texas.
[Daugherty's fiction] "leaves us dry-eyed and wiser in that place far beyond tears that we know from our own lives."--Shelby Hearon
"Daugherty combines the serious and literary with the funny and offbeat, resulting in sparkle-plenty prose with an ear for dialogue that never fails."--Beverly Lowry
About the Author
TRACY DAUGHERTY, a native of Midland, Texas, is the author of nine previous books of fiction, a book of personal essays, and biographies of Donald Barthelme, Joseph Heller, and Joan Didion. His work has been recognized with fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon.