CORVALLIS, Ore. – Author and Oregon State University professor emeritus Tracy Daugherty attributes his latest literary success to the “power of Joan.” Daugherty’s new book, a biography of American author and journalist Joan Didion, debuted at No. 11 on this week’s New York Times best-seller list for hardcover nonfiction.
“Didion was a well-known public figure when I began to write about her, but she hadn’t yet achieved the almost stratospheric celebrity she has attained since I began this project,” said Daugherty, distinguished professor emeritus of English and creative writing at OSU. “I was a bit stunned at the force of the whirlwind around her.”
“The Last Love Song,” (St. Martin’s Press) is the first printed biography about the reclusive Didion’s life and career, a narrative that traces her life from her youth in Sacramento to her marriage and partnership with her late husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, and beyond.
“Daugherty's biography is one of this year’s most important American books,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. “His enormous accomplishment has been to write a brilliant bestseller about a writer intent on avoiding being written about."
Daugherty is the author of four novels, five short story collections, a book of personal essays and three literary biographies. “Hiding Man,” his biography of Donald Barthelme, was a New York Times and New Yorker notable Book of the Year.
His first collection of literary essays, “Let Us Build Us a City,” will be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2016. He recently completed several new short stories and novellas and has begun research on a new biography.
Daugherty will give a talk on the book at 4 p.m. Oct. 12 at the OSU Center for the Humanities, Autzen House, 811 W. Jefferson Ave. He is also scheduled to read at the annual Magic Barrel: A Reading to Fight Hunger at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Whiteside Theater in Corvallis, 361 S.W. Madison Ave. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Linn-Benton Food Share.