Let Us Build Us a City

Tracy Daugherty

From the author of The Last Love Song: an engaging encounter with words and imagination as they reflect the life of our nation


“Tracy Daugherty’s Let Us Build Us a City reconsiders the role of literature in our world. Drawing from some of the most influential writers and thinkers of the twentieth century, he poses questions that face anyone engaged in the arts today. These thoughtful, deeply considered, and provocative essays encourage the reader to engage with the unknown, to embrace ‘the mystery and power of creating new worlds,’ and to take part in building what Daugherty calls ‘a creative and imaginatively generous society’—exactly the sort of society we should aspire to.”
—Peter Turchi, author of Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer

“Thoughtful and ambitious.”
New York Times, on The Last Love Song

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With Let Us Build Us a City Tracy Daugherty considers the principles of literary art in a series of essays that focus on the nature of artistic vision and the creative individual’s relationship to the world. The book reads like a master class on writing as practice, while performing a deep reading of art and life and looking to discern why liberal education matters so much to our society.

At its core, Let Us Build Us a City is a work of cultural and literary history, combining memoir (of the author’s experiences as a student and teacher of literature and writing) with analysis and speculation. Daugherty exploits a variety of forms to explore literary apprenticeship and mentoring, philosophy, politics, metaphysics, and American history.

In particular, Daugherty focuses on the creative impulse and the diverse ways in which individual writers apply their imaginations to their craft. Along the way, he offers multiple considerations of American culture and the place of creative practice within it. Let Us Build Us a City is a stirring defense and timely renewal of our national literary vision.

Crux: The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction

Page count: 200 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $26.95

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Tracy Daugherty is the author of, most recently, The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. He has also published four novels, six short story collections, and a book of personal essays, as well as biographies of Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller. He is distinguished professor emeritus of English and creative writing at Oregon State University.