From “Cooking with Rachael Ray”

Two days ago, I watched life make a bloody exit from my body. We weren’t allowed sharp objects. I’d stolen the paring knife from the kitchen, having picked the lock and broken in late in the evening. My mother always said I was sneaky and couldn’t be trustedjust like my father.

She was right.


As a monster dust storm descends upon Lubbock in conservative West Texas, this collection of stories takes us behind closed doors to reveal secrets and hidden desires of ten people. A teenage patient in a clinic describes how he got his idea for suicide from watching Rachael Ray. A woman finds photos on her husband’s iPad that changes her life forever. A young man experiences a repressed memory from his senior year of high school. A Latina takes revenge on an unfaithful spouse. Two Mormon kids sit outside the local temple in silence, waiting to be taken away. These and other episodes make up one day in Lubbock—where “churches stick of our neighborhoods like prairie dog mounds and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is a way of life for everyone.” 

This collection of stories is for speakers of English, based on VanPatten's four years teaching at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Great for a rainy afternoon or for reading time by the pool.


See what people are saying...

I loved every story.

“This collection is intriguing from beginning to end! VanPatten takes the reader on a journey into the secret lives of several Lubbock residents as change and realization wash over them. With mental illness, sexuality, murder, and family strife at the center of many of the stories, there's something here for every reader! I loved every story.”

— A.G.

Artfully told

“A must read for anyone who has lived in or visited Lubbock. These stories probe hidden truths that lie beneath the surface of the seemingly quiet small Texas town. Artfully told, the magic of many of the stories often lies in what is not said under the veneer of what is, both in the form of the stories as well as their content. Each story provides the reader one surprise after the next.”

— Amazon Customer


"I read Dust Storm during my Spring Break.  Some powerful stories, they made me laugh and cry."

— J.M.