“ Cowboys Are My Weakness is short stories, fiction, and yet you feel the sense that even if not everything is literally true from Pam’s life; she’s really tapped into what it means to be human,” says Cheryl Strayed, author of the nonfiction bestseller Wild. “That’s the work of any writer: Trying to illuminate the human condition, and Pam has done that from the beginning. And she has a plainspokenness that I find so compelling.”
Houston explains that her style is a natural outgrowth of the controversies of such writers as James Frey, who was scolded by Oprah Winfrey for making up part of his memoir A Million Little Pieces.
“What I’m doing is entering this conversation on what language can really mean,” she says. “This is my contribution, whether nonfiction can really exist. When do we have to pretend everything is true, when can we allow it to slide.”
The Pam in Contents mulls over the question of “Is it OK to stay home?” The real Houston does, too, but she’s still excited for new experiences. She’s going kayaking in the Everglades after her book fair duties are over. And although she has been to so many places, her to-do list is far from complete.
“I’ve only been to Istanbul one time. I’m dying to see Turkey. I’ve always wanted to go to Namibia because of the landscape, the dunes and all the different geologic regions, and of course I love the animals. I’ve been to Africa, a really long time ago, but only southern Africa, and I’d like to go back.”