Daugherty, Tracy 1955–

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Daugherty, Tracy 1955–

PERSONAL: Born June 5, 1955, in Midland, TX; son of Don Eugene (a geologist) and Joanne (Stephenson) Daugherty; married Martha Grace Low (a teacher), December 31, 1985. Education: Southern Methodist University, B.A., 1976, M.A., 1983; University of Houston, Ph.D., 1985.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, Oregon State University, 238 Moreland Hall, 240D, Corvallis, OR 97331-5302. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and educator. High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Houston, TX, writing consultant, 1984–86; Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 1986–, began as associate professor, became professor of English, director of the MFA program, 2002–05; chair of the Department of English, 2005–. Also served on faculty of Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC.

MEMBER: Associated Writing Programs, Modern Language Association, Pacific Northwest American Studies Association, Sigma Tau Delta, English Honor Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: Awards from Southwestern Booksellers Association and Texas Literary Festival, both 1986, both for Desire Provoked; A.B. Guthrie, Jr., Short Fiction Award, for "The Women in the Oil Field," 1996; Associated Writing Programs award, 1996, for What Falls Away; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1998.

WRITINGS:

Desire Provoked (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 1987.

What Falls Away (novel), Norton (New York, NY), 1996.

The Women in the Oil Field (short story collection), Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 1996.

The Boy Orator: A Novel, Southern Methodist University Press, 1998.

It Takes a Worried Man: Stories, Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 2002.

Axeman's Jazz: A Novel, Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 2003.

Five Shades of Shadow (literary criticism), University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2003.

Late in the Standoff: Stories and a Novella, Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 2005.

Work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New Yorker, Georgia Review, and Southwest Review.

SIDELIGHTS: Described by Ron Loewinsohn in the New York Times Book Review as "an uneven but still impressive first novel," Tracy Daugherty's Desire Provoked, is the story of Sam Adams, a cartographer whose ordered world becomes suddenly confused by his wife's desertion, pressure from his boss to be dishonest on the job, and visits from a dark, mysterious stranger. Only after a near-fatal map-making trip to the Arctic, taken to escape the turmoil of his life, is Adams able to resolve his difficulties. Although Loewinsohn noted that the author tends to preach, he also wrote that Daugherty "is a serious, ambitious, highly gifted artist whose narration shifts between a straightforward, terse, no-nonsense prose and interludes of expressionistic or surreal free association."

Daugherty told CA: "I am interested in the connections between public and private lives—a territory Grace Paley has explored so well—and in various definitions of 'culture.' I'm intrigued by what happens when cultures clash. I've been heavily influenced by Donald Barthelme's experiments with language; I want to test the extremes of narrative and characterization, in light of the aforementioned cultural definitions. How does 'culture' shape our notions of "story'?

"In the years since the publication of my first novel, I have attempted, in my work, to marry my earlier impulses toward innovation in form with more traditional structures and characterizations. This doesn't mean my aesthetics have become more conservative; rather, I hope it indicates a growing ease with the art of narrative, a maturing outlook. New forms will always be necessary to accurately describe a changing universe; but the best fiction, I believe, will always be strongly grounded in character. Novels and stories do their work through detail and human emotions. I am still intrigued by the new patterns of speech innovative writers such as Grace Paley and Donald Barthelme have given us, but my own vision now leans toward inclusiveness and expansion, rooted in historical knowledge, along the lines of William Kennedy's magnificent Albany series of novels. If I could write Billy Phelan's Greatest Game as seen through the eyes of the Dead Father, I could die happy."

Daugherty's works have continued to receive critical praise. For example, his book The Boy Orator: A Novel, which is a coming-of-age tale that takes place in Oklahoma prior to World War I, was called "an engaging, evocative novel of a troubled time" by Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush. Focusing on the life of Harry Shaughnessy, who narrates the story, the novel follows Shaughnessy as he leaves his home state of Texas and makes his way in the world, speaking out in favor of socialism, until World War I effectively puts an end to the movement. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "the robust descriptions of race relations and early resistance movements are Daugherty's triumph."

It Takes a Worried Man: Stories is a collection of the author's short fiction, from the tale of a folklorist and a family of illegal immigrants headed for tragedy to a story about an artist on the verge of success who is leaving his wife and child behind. Fritz Lanham, writing in the Houston Chronicle, called the effort a "modest but attractive collection" and went on to comment: "Daugherty's prose is transparent and low-key. The language is neither self-consciously showy or studiously stripped bare. Occasionally it rises to descriptive force."

Daugherty's essays are collected in Five Shades of Shadow. The essays, some of them previously published, focus on the Oklahoma City bombing and the effects it had, even on those people not directly involved. Joyce Sparrow, writing in the Library Journal, noted: "The most powerful of these heartfelt essays … beautifully illustrates how literature can change a person's life."

Axeman's Jazz: A Novel explores the world of a multiracial woman who is looking for her father. In the process, the protagonist, Telisha Washington, encounters a series of family mysteries and the issues of race and identity that pervade her consciousness. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Washington is a combative, compelling protagonist, and Daugherty's dialogue-based scenes give color to … [the] narrative."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of The Boy Orator: A Novel, p. 1154.

Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1987, review of Desire Provoked, p. 6.

Houston Chronicle, June 28, 2002, Fritz Lanham, review of It Takes A Worried Man: Stories.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of It Takes A Worried Man, p. 823.

Library Journal, February 15, 2003, Joyce Sparrow, review of Five Shades of Shadow, p. 138.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 8, 1987, review of Desire Provoked, p. 3; February 11, 1996, review of What Falls Away, p. 10.

New York Times Book Review, February 1, 1987, Ron Loewinsohn, review of Desire Provoked, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1999, review of The Boy Orator, p. 67; August 28, 1003, review of Axeman's Jazz: A Novel, p. 58.

ONLINE

Oregon State University Web site, http://oregonstate.edu/ (November 9, 2005), faculty profile of author.