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Southern Methodist University Press
<DIV>“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.”—<B>Cynthia Shearer</B><BR><BR>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.<BR><BR>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.<BR><BR>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.<BR><BR>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.<BR><BR>“This is a powerful and engaging work by a wonderfully talented writer.”—<B>Allen Wier</B>, author of <I>Tehano</I></DIV>