Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Reading List from Pam Houston

I've only come to know Pam Houston's work this year after a friend recommended Cowboys Are My Weakness. The title intrigued me enough to run out to the store that week to pick up Houston's collection of short stories. I also snagged her novel Waltzing the Cat, figuring if my friend said that Cowboys Are My Weakness was her all-time favorite book, then surely any book by Houston was worthy of a read. I finished the short stories this summer and fell in love. I've passed it off to my roommate, mom and several friends.

Me, cheesing with Pam Houston
In November, Pam's name appeared like an oasis on a message board in the hallway of Butler University's Jordan Hall, where I am taking Dan Barden's Community Fiction Workshop. She was coming to the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series! I immediately alerted my friend who turned me onto Pam and my friends that I in turn had turned onto Pam. I was more excited to meet Pam than I was to go see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver a few moons ago.

Pam's work inspires my work, so during the question and answer period after she read from her new novel, Contents May Have Shifted, I asked her how reading plays into her own writing. She indicated that Lorrie Moore's Self-Help acted as a blueprint for her first short story that gave birth to Cowboys Are My Weakness. Reading is a big damn deal for writers. Or at least it should be. So Pam gave us a list of this year's books she felt strongly enough about to mention.

A Reading List from Pam Houston:

  1. Battleborn, Claire Vaye Watkins
  2. Wild, Cheryl Strayed (Pam added a side note that she's typically not a big fan of super popular books, but this was a winner.)
  3. Absolution, Patrick Flanery
  4. When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams
  5. Canada, Richard Ford
And a few from me...
  1. The Next Right Thing, Dan Barden
  2. Waltzing the Cat, Pam Houston
  3. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Jonathan Evison

He's gained almost 10 lbs, and the vet thinks he has a thyroid issue...runs in the family. We had some photos taken in the fall. Kind of cheesy but kind of know that they are!