About

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Pam Houston’s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published in 2012. 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, all published by W.W. Norton.

Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 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.

She is 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 lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Pam’s Books

Sight HoundA Little More About MeWaltzing the CatCowboys Are My WeaknessContents May Have Shifted

45 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Pam Houston,
    I will be graduating from UC Davis this summer and just read your essay in Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, so I was immediately intrigued to learn more about you. I just want you to know that I enjoyed your essay tremendously and think that you handled your experience with more grace and courage than I ever could have. I look forward to reading more of your novels and essays. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I stumbled across your blog entry, an excerpt from Sight Hound, when I was researching sight hounds. You are one hell of a writer.

  3. I was in the midst of rereading Sighthound when I became overwhelmed with the desire to get another sighthound dog after the loss of my Irishwolfhound mix. I now have a rescue American Staghound ( a mix of Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, and Greyhound) He has only 3 feet because of the loss of one of his back feet in a barbwire accident on a ranch in Montana. What is it about these gorgeous huge dogs with their eyes full of wisdom and oddly enough a grand sense of humor? Thanks for your inspiration!

    • Strange that tripping along the internet slightly overgrown side roads I should discover you here after all these years…warmth and light to you. Glen

    • I know. Everyone says I ought to get a dog that lives longer, but they don’t understand that once you live with a sight hound it is hard to go back. And American Staghound sounds really cool.

  4. I bought Cowboys are My Weakness after reading an article in my local paper, have read all your books by now, and will be looking for the next one in 2012 at my local bookstore. Yes, they will have it here in Missoula, MT. After reading a couple of your books, I was thinking it would be hard to write about some of the subjects without having lived them and said I’d like to know a little more about you. Then came the next one: A Little More About Me. Ha!

    • Hi Mary Ann. I’ll be up in Missoula for the book festival in October. Hope to see you there.

  5. I am thrilled you have a new book out. You are the sole reason I look forward to reading again after years of hiatus while getting my PhD. I adore your autobiographical-fiction and cant wait to read what you’ve been up to.

  6. Hi. I think your writing is amazing. I know, you’ve heard that before. But I get your writing and where out comes from. I’m a woman who’s been river guiding for 11 years and when I sent cowboys are my weakness to my friend in washington d.c she said reading it felt like she was talking to me. Anyway. I live in durango, colorado and am very excited to meet you this tuesday at marias bookstore. If your not busy after, I would love to buy you a beer at the classically trashy dive bar across the street from the bookstore. Thanks. See you in a few days!

  7. You wrote the short story How to Talk to a Hunter right? Can you tell me if you did any interview(s) about the story, or if anyone did an interview about you involving the story. Im doing a short report on it/you for my short stories class. Thank you!

  8. I love your work, and I appreciate the artistry, intellect and integrity behind it. Please write a book every year and new short story ever quarter. You can have a short sabbatical @ age 60. Then – back to it.
    You mom was right, in a way. Having kids does make a woman more like everybody else. Not sure if this is good or bad, but it is a rarely spoken truth. Not a lot of individuality or self-actualization in car pool line, filling out school forms or cleaning barf.
    Whatevs.
    Would you consider making it more obvious when you offer comments or responses to posts here? Maybe a faint wash of color, when the rest are on white? Or, your pic?
    Thanks.

  9. Hi Pam,
    Saw you at the Bookworm in Edwards, Co. last night.
    It occurred to me driving home to Boulder, that your name spelled backwards is Map. You seem to be all over it in a variety of interesting ways. I love that!

    Crazy Mountain Girl

  10. Hi there. I’m just writing to say I love your work. I’ve read all your books and own a few of them. Reading Contents May Have Shifted gives me the travel bug, makes me appreciate my women friends even more, and makes me so grateful for my partner. I hope I get to see you at a reading some time. -writing from Escondido, CA, with an appreciation for hight altitude adventures here and abroad

    • Hi Shoshana. Thanks for writing. I ought to know my southern California Geography better than I do. I will be reading in Laguna in the Pen On Fire reading series on June 5th. I don’t know how far that is from you, but I hope we meet soon, Pam

  11. Michelle – If you need any volunteer help during the Chautauqua two-day workshop, please contact me. I’d be happy to assist. I’ll try to leave this message on the other blog.

  12. Damn. Stunning, probably life changing. Of the thousands of books I’ve read in my years there might be two or three I could say that about. Thank you.

  13. I HATE to write. Have read all of your books. Currently reading “Contents May Have Shifted”. I keep thinking someday I may lie on the registration to one of your writer’s workshops and try to attend.–Rene

    • You don’t have to lie. I hate to write too! Most days, except for that rare day when it is the best thing ever.

  14. Hi–I’ve read all of your books–just finishing “Cowboys”–started with “A Little More About Me.” Was hoping to find more of your writing on line. Maybe in a periodical search? I enjoy your writing style, but it’s your insights that keep me hooked. We’ve lived our lives very differently, but I can certainly connect with your experiences with men. Maybe that’s universal or maybe, again, it’s just your insights into the experiences.

    Sue

    • I have five books all together…if you have read all of those, I have a bunch of uncollected essays on the Byliner site. Do you know about Byliner? It is pretty cool.

  15. Hi Pam,
    I was excited for the opportunity to hear you read your work recently at the Whitefish Review Lucky #13 launch. I enjoyed your humor and raw grace and it was a treat to hear your words from your own voice. I am equally excited to read your book that I purchased at the event. Any words of wisdom for an aspiring writer? After attending your reading, I am inspired to continue my project http://www.tellmeallyourthoughtsongod.com
    Know that your readers relate to your writing, to your witty humor, to your voice, to your life experience. Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. Cheers from Montana, Heidi

  16. Dear Pam,
    Am a devoted reader of your work. Moved from N. CA to Italy in 2010 and gave up all my books to do so. Hoping to find the collection How to Talk to a Hunter one day on Amazon Kindle. Did a used book search tonight on all the on-line sources physical and electronic and can’t get a copy. So let me know when and where.

    • Hi Kath. The book that that story is in is called Cowboys Are My Weakness…you ought not to have any trouble finding that one. Thanks, Pam

  17. Pam, I’m a huge fan of your stories, “Waltzing the Cat” and “The Best Girlfriend you’ll Never Have.”
    I lost my mother to lung cancer in 2011 and “Waltzing the Cat” still resonates with me. Especially, the last scene. I think “The Best Girlfriend You’ll Never Have is your best story – Just the transitions in time and place are marvelous.

    I’m working on an article: “The Sexiest Travel Movies,” and wondered if you’d like to be included.
    If so, would you send your personal favorite and why it moved you. Thanks for taking the time.

    Jack Lander

  18. Dear Pam: Years ago I read an essay of yours in a woman’s fashion magazine (Mademoiselle? Elle?) about life and the satisfaction brought in the context of moments. Among other things, the essay included a description of your friendship with the poet Jane Hirschfield and your mutual admiration for Adrienne Rich. The essay came at a particular “moment” in my life and, for years, I carried a copy with me until it was misplaced. I’ve tried to locate it on the internet but have never been able to find it. Any chance you could lead me to it or, if not available on the internet, provide me with a copy? I’d be most grateful. Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

  19. Hi Pam, Just stumbled on “Waltzing the Cat” while shelving books in our library and read it in one night, eschewing sleep! (Don’t you love that word…) I loved the wild ride, the whole way, but the Epilogue blew me away. It was so real, so tender; I cried and cried, and fell asleep washed clean. Thank you for that beautiful book. I’ll get the rest.

    • Hey Sharon,

      Thanks for your great note. I hope the others held up to that one. That one is my secret favorite, my problem child….Pam

  20. Pam: Can you remember where you wrote about maturity not being a 9-5 job…but taking responsibility for your life ? I write down quotes from your books, and have just re-read all your books but cannot find this quote anywhere, and I distinctly remember it came from you .. all my worldly possessions are packed in three plastic containers in a basement in mid coast Maine, and I am living in Oregon, so I don’t have access to the journal where I wrote it down. I always tell people that reading your books is like sitting on a couch with you, in front of a roaring fire, smoking a joint (or drinking wine, whichever) and just listening to you tell stories…and I have gotten a whole lot of people reading your work now..
    Lisa.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m sorry, I don’t remember, although the sad truth is there are so many things I don’t remember these days. Thanks for your note…Pam

  21. Hi Pam,
    I recently was very entertained reading your book Cowboys are My Weakness! I read it all in one sitting because it was so funny! I am a school teacher in Vancouver, Washington (right across the river from Portland, Oregon) and would LOVE to know if you ever do writing workshops in this area! Thank you!

    • Hi Crislee,

      I will be teaching a workshop in January in Port Townsend, and then I will be back this summer for the Port Townsend writers festival. You can get the links from my teaching page within the site. Maybe I will see you at one of those, Pam

  22. Pam, I read your short story, “How to Talk to a Hunter” my freshman year at UC Davis. That was back in 2000. I had no idea you were a professor there! Maybe you weren’t then. Regardless, that story has always stuck with me. You are an exceptional writer. I live in Europe now – any chance you do writing classes or seminars on this side of the pond?

    • Hi Chelsea, From time to time I do teach over there. Sometimes in Mallorca, and sometimes in Greece, and you never know what might transpire. If you check back here on the website from time to time or on Facebook, I usually do a pretty good job of keeping things up to date, Pam

  23. Hi Pam. I read Sight Hound after losing my 8 year old Irish Wolfhound to bone cancer. I really enjoyed it. While researching breeders in the Pa, NJ area, I learned about a Mr. Sam Houston who was a famous breeder in PA. Any relation to you?

    • Hi Katherine. Very sorry to hear about your loss, and no, no relation to Sam Houston. I’m glad you liked Sight Hound. Hard to do those wonderful dogs justice! Pam

  24. Pam, Antonya Nelson, who I know from my Warren Wilson MFA, suggested I read “Contents May Have Shifted”. last year. It’s no accident that a month later I wrote my first travel piece to be accepted for publication. That’s how much I learned from your wonderful book. Thank you.

    Geoff Kronik

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