New Book

Contents May Have Shifted

A Novel

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.”

Recent Reviews and Interviews

REVIEW: ‘Contents’ May Have Shifted’ by Pam Houston (review by author Rebecca Barry – San Francisco Chronicle/

REVIEW: Book Review on NPR’s All Things Considered (by Alan Cheuse)

REVIEW: A fearless woman’s whirlwind voyage of self-discovery (special to the Oregonian)

INTERVIEW: KPOV Radio (audio MP3)

Check out this advanced Review of Contents from Booklist:

Issue: December 15, 2011

Contents May Have Shifted.

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof

Houston, Pam (Author) Feb 2012. 320 p. Norton, hardcover, $25.95. (9780393082654).

Houston’s latest novel finds Pam, the intrepid narrator, shuttling the world over, from Alaska to Tunisia, from Bhutan to Newfoundland, searching for authenticity, drinking up life, and maybe, just maybe, fleeing from a little conflict. As Pam first wrestles with a stagnant relationship, then enters a more promising (but arguably not easier) one, she philosophizes with girlfriends, mystics, and old lovers on all of life’s usual questions in a refreshingly witty and bold manner. The novel’s nonlinear plot builds meaning associatively through 144 minisections, each set in a new global location, enchanting the reader with unexplained characters and backstory. While a less-skilled writer would falter with this disjointed technique, in controlled, elegant prose, Houston imbues each pithy chapter with unifying lyricism. As the flight attendant says after a plane experiencing fuel-system failure successfully lands, “If your contents haven’t shifted, you must be carrying lead weights.” Unapologetic and empowering, Houston’s book hammers home the idea that if you don’t have problems, you probably aren’t living. Or, to use her metaphor, we all have baggage, so we might as well get used to traveling with it.

— Katharine Fronk

Pam’s Books

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10 thoughts on “New Book

  1. Pingback: Pam’s Next Book: Contents May Have Shifted | Pam Houston

      • I have just finished reading your new book and enjoyed it so much. I have been waiting for its release ever since I heard you read “snippets” from it at the Writer’s Workshop in Taos several years ago. I laughed and cried all the way through the book.You are a wonderful, strong, amazing woman. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Pam, – I’ve read every single one of your books and cannot wait to read this new one. I have a friend who just had hip surgery and I planned to send one of your books to her. She lives in Denver Colorado and I really think she will appreciate your writing just as much as I do. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you will be in the Chicago area this weekend doing a reading from your new book and I look forward to meeting you.


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  4. Hi Pam! I am about half way through Contents May Have Shifted and had a couple of questions for you. Why did you choose to write “144 mini-sections”? It makes it a little more difficult to read, but I am enjoying the craftsmanship of all of the stories that stand alone, so it is worth the extra work. Also, some of your sections begin with incomplete sentences…why did you do that? I am thoroughly enjoying the book and can’t wait for book club discussion next month!

    Thank you!

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