"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."