Monday, June 4, 2012

Pam Houston

Pam Houston divides her time between her ranch in Colorado and the University of California at Davis, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program. She has been a frequent contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, and her writing appears regularly in More and other publications. She in the author of the best-selling Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Houston's new novel is Contents May Have Shifted.

From the author's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I love the whole idea of your new book, that problems are part of life, and what we do with our “baggage” affects our life. Is this hard-won knowledge or is this something you’ve always known?

That’s such an interesting way to describe my book. I think in order to more accurately reflect my own experience I would have to change the language just a bit. First I was numb, then I went to therapy and learned to feel my feelings, which included a lot of extremely unpleasant ones, then I learned to feel the difference between what felt good and what felt bad, and that, more than anything else, changed my life. Not that I don’t still carry about fifteen suitcases and a couple of trunks of nonproductive sludge around with me, maybe a snowboard and a guitar or two…one of those wedding dresses they won’t let you hang up in the closet on the airplanes anymore…but I digress.

As I tell my students over and over, we only love the flawed characters, by which I mean the realistic ones. It is like Ruby says in Contents, ““Oh, Pam, Sofree lives in a hole. You…me…everybody lives in a hole. But what’s great is if you go over and tap on the wall of your hole, you find out we’re all connected.”

What struck me so much about your novel was the voice, which felt different to me than in your other novels (all of which I’ve loved.) Was this a conscious choice? How do you usually find your way into character?

I would be interested in hearing in what ways you think this voice is different. I’ve grown up some more, I hope. One always hopes for that. When I asked myself how I wanted this book to be different I knew what I really wanted was for the language to work harder than ever before. I read a ton of...[read on]
Read--Coffee with a Canine: Pam Houston and Fenton Johnson.

The Page 69 Test: Contents May Have Shifted.

My Book, The Movie: Contents May Have Shifted.

Writers Read: Pam Houston.

--Marshal Zeringue