Pam Houston

Award-winning Writer & Teacher
Author of Contents May Have Shifted

 

“Ms. Houston snaps along in a sassy canter, her prose sharp and clean and full of sentences worth underlining.” —NY Times Book Review

"Pam Houston is a wonder, moving with grace and humor and insight….a narrative tour de force." —Robert Olen Butler

"Houston claims for women the terrain staked out by male writers from Hemingway to Richard Ford....Her voice is wholly formed and perfect." —Los Angeles Times

Pam Houston is the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness (1994), which was the winner of the 1993 Western States Book Award and has been translated into nine languages, and Waltzing the Cat (1999, reissued 2013), which won the Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction; two novels, Contents May Have Shifted (2012); and Sight Hound (2006), all published by W.W. Norton & Co.; and two collections of autobiographical essays, A Rough guide to the Heart (Virago, 2001) and A Little More About Me (Norton, 1999, reissued 2013). Houston has also edited a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Women on Hunting: Essays, Fiction, and Poetry (Ecco Press). She is the author of a stage play called "Tracking the Pleiades"; and she has written the text for Men Before Ten A.M., a book of photographs by the French photographer Veronique Vialle.

Contents May Have Shifted Review on NPR

Interview about Contents May Have Shifted

Richard Ford selected "How to Talk to a Hunter" for the 1990 Best American Short Stories; a decade later, Houston’s “The Best Girlfriend You Never Had” was John Updike's only addition to the 1999 Best American Short Stories of the Century. Her stories have also been selected for The O. Henry Awards and The Pushcart Prize. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, and The Evil Companions Literary Award. She is a regular contributor to O, the Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Bark, More, and many other periodicals. Her essays and stories have been widely anthologized, and in 2012 she contributed the prologue to Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction (University of Iowa Press).

Excerpts & Video of Pam from Contents May Have Shifted

Houston is a Professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers and teaches in The Pacific University low residency MFA program and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world. She divides her time between Davis and southwestern Colorado at 9,000 feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. 

2001 Interview with On the Page

SHORT BIO
Pam Houston’s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted. She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel Sight Hound, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me. Her stories have been selected for Best American Short StoriesThe O. Henry AwardsThe 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century.  She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards.

About CONTENTS MAY HAVE SHIFTED (Novel, 2012)
Heart-stopping prose and crackling observations on a spiritual journey toward a life rich in love and freedom. Stuck in a dead-end relationship, this fearless narrator leaves her metaphorical baggage behind and finds a comfort zone in the air, “feeling safest with one plane ticket in her hand and another in her underwear drawer.” She flies around the world, finding reasons to love life in dozens of far-flung places from Alaska to Bhutan. Along the way she weathers unplanned losses of altitude, air pressure, and landing gear. With the help of a squad of loyal, funny, wise friends and massage therapists, she learns to sort truth from self-deception, self-involvement from self-possession. At last, having found a new partner “who loves Don DeLillo and the NHL” and a daughter “who needs you to teach her to dive and to laugh at herself”—not to mention two dogs and two horses—“staying home becomes more of an option. Maybe.”

About SIGHT HOUND (Novel, 2006)
A very special love story from the best-selling author of Cowboys Are My Weakness. This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches "his human" that love is stronger than fear (the dog has always known this). Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, and they step forward with their narratives: Rae's house-tender; her therapist; two veterinarians; and an anxiety-ridden actor, Howard, who turns out to be as stalwart as Dante himself. As the "seer" who hunts by sight rather than smell, Dante has some things to add, as does Rose, another dog who lives at Rae's heels, and Stanley the cat. Among and above these myriad voices, Rae voices her own challenges. With the wit and dead-on candor we've come to expect from Pam Houston, Sight Hound unfolds a story that illuminates the intangible covenant between loved ones. Here, dogs and humans are simply equal creatures, looking to connect and holding on for dear life when they do. 

About COWBOYS ARE MY WEAKNESS: STORIES (Stories, 1994)
In Pam Houston's critically acclaimed collection of strong, shrewd, and very funny stories, we meet smart women who are looking for the love of a good man, and men who are wild and hard to pin down. "I've always had this thing for cowboys, maybe because I was born in New Jersey. But a real cowboy is hard to find these days, even in the West," says the narrator in the title story of Pam Houston's critically acclaimed collection. Houston's heroines are part daredevil, part philosopher, all acute observers of the nuances of modern romance. They go where their cowboys go; they meet cowboys who don't look the part—and they have staunch friends who give them advice when the going gets rough. Cowboys Are My Weakness is a refreshing and realistic look at men and women—together and apart.

Pam Houston website