The Land and the Days
A Memoir of Family, Friendship, and Grief
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
234 Pages | 6 x 9
As a child in the early 1960s, Daugherty lived with his parents and sister in West Texas. And yet from a young age, in the author’s recounting, he was just as much at home in the small town of Walters, Oklahoma, where his grandparents lived and where he and his family often visited. A cattle and oil town just a few miles north of the Red River, Walters seemingly belonged to another realm. In sensory detail, Daugherty evokes the old-fashioned atmosphere of his grandparents’ home, the “tastes, smells, and textures: fried okra, mothballs, cotton batting—radiators and ancient typewriters.” These were things, he explains, that he experienced only in Oklahoma.
The “Unearthly Archives,” the second of Daugherty’s memoirs, expands the realistic accounts of the first narrative, providing a meditation on the meaning of grief. Daugherty demonstrates his curiosity and indefatigable quest for understanding and closure by examining his life-long store of literary readings, as well as the music he loves, to discover the true value of a life dedicated to art. Whereas the first narrative explores daily family life, setting up what will be the huge loss of his parents, the second examines questions of death, grief, creativity, and the meaning of memory.
As he mourns the loss of his parents, Daugherty reckons with his own mortality and finds himself confronting such fundamental questions as, How does individual consciousness develop? What can music, art, and literature teach us about life’s experiences? And finally, Is there a soul? The Land and the Days addresses these eternal questions with uncommon honesty and grace.
“With beauty and grace, Tracy Daugherty ‘scratches at the mysteries of self, mind, soul’ in this powerful work of nonfiction. Part memoir, part intellectual investigation, part elegy, The Land and the Days rewards on so many levels. Daugherty illuminates the forces of homesickness and yearning, how we want to think our way to a comprehension of death, the aching grip with which the past and the places and people we’ve loved hold us. A beautiful testament.”—Rilla Askew, author of Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place