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Cowboys Are My Weakness

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,962 ratings  ·  455 reviews
In Pam Houston's critically acclaimed collection of strong, shrewd, and very funny stories, we meet smart women who are looking for the love of a good man, and men who are wild and hard to pin down. "I've always had this thing for cowboys, maybe because I was born in New Jersey,” says the narrator in the collection’s title story. “But a real cowboy is hard to find these da ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 17th 2005 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1992)
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Gail I'm reading it now. Will try and focus on location. The story "Selway" is about the Selway river in Idaho, I think. I agree with Anne, below. Deep…moreI'm reading it now. Will try and focus on location. The story "Selway" is about the Selway river in Idaho, I think. I agree with Anne, below. Deep Creek is definitely a book for your book club.(less)

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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,962 ratings  ·  455 reviews

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Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing here is whip-smart and I would pay a hundred dollars for the reaction I have in my gut when I read this book. Pam Houston helps me locate the memories I forget I carry: the glittering world inside a trout, the mystery and excitement of peeling a deer’s skin from its body, the satisfaction of sewing bait fish onto sturdy, sturgeon-catching hooks—my earliest arts and crafts, mostly forgotten.

I grew up plucking ducks and geese in the West with a complicated outdoorsman father who is no
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book my then-boyfriend, now husband gave to me...and he turned me into a life-long Pam Houston fan. He LOANED ME One Hundred Years of Solitude first but he bought me this one...
This is probably my favorite book but everything she's written is fantastic - and while I count the days until her next book, once it's out, I SLOWLY read it...kind of like I did with John Irving when I first read World According to Garp or Widow for One Year...every page is satisfying...and although she
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oh wow. I never knew I had a deeply closeted obsession with cowboys and outdoorsmen until I read this collection of short stories. Houston's writing makes me want to trade my corolla for a horse, my books for guns, and my nerdy love interests for roguish deer hunters. Seriously. This is great stuff. Fast, smart, witty, and undeniably unique. A treasure.
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
After reading several raving reviews of this book, I had high hopes for it. The title made me laugh and piqued my curiosity. Its a book containing ten or so short stories about different women and their cowboys... The first short story was absolutely horrible, I didn't like the style of writing and was so annoyed by it that I almost put the book down. But I gave it a chance, and thankfully the rest of the stories were narrative and I wasn't distracted by the writing style.

In general, I couldn't
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I gave this collection to a girl once who I was trying to woo. I truly felt as though Houston had captured the "essence" of modern femininity and that by giving this young lady such a relevant and symbolic short story book, I was on my way to...well, you know. The young woman's reaction, however, was laughter and not the kind of laughter I was seeking. It was sardonic, "you thought I would like these stories??" kind of laughter. But I kind of enjoyed the stories. Houston doesn't play games with ...more
Ben Loory
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He winked and touched the horse's flank with his spurs and it hopped a little on the takeoff and then there was just dirt flying while the high grass swallowed the horse's legs. I leaned against the door of my pickup truck watching my new cowboy riding off toward where the sun was already low in the sky and the grass shimmering like nothing I'd ever seen in the mountains. And for a minute I thought we were living inside my painting, but he was riding away too fast to tell. And I wondered then wh ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Cowboys are NOT my weakness....and they're not Pam Houston's either.

I would never pick up a book with this title except that I heard that it was not what it sounds like and that much was true but I still had to hide it in my purse out of embarrassment. It's about relationships but mostly what is lacking in relationships between men and women and in the end Houston's most meaningful relationship is with a woman. It's well written and whip smart.

Houston is a tomboy with a taste for perilous adven
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A friend of mine is on a quest to find the female Bukowski. And while I don't think Houston qualifies that, she certainly found the Carver of my heart. I love stories about people, not events because the most changing events occur when we don't expect them to, over a period of unforseable time. It could be a moment, it could be days, it could be the length of an illness, or a night in the snow with your dogs. Houston does a great job with this. It's a little too gender stereotypical at times and ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book a great deal more than I expected to. I've kind of gotten burned out on western wilderness books, but this had such a different feel to it. It was fresh at the same time that it was still spare and solid. Very nice writing.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a talent. Not sure why I hadn't read her before.
In a matter of sentences, she pulls you in to each story so quickly...
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'll admit it, I picked this up based on the title. I mean, what a great title, right? Unlike most books chosen based on title, though, this one paid off. It's a great book of short stories, mostly centered around women's relationships with men who are unsuitable for one reason or another, generally due to being one kind or another of "cowboy."

Which I realize doesn't make it sound very good. In fact, it makes it sound pretty fucking trite. But it's mostly not. Houston's female characters are str
Sara Foster
Before reading any of Pam Houston's books I attended her reading of Sight Hound because my roommate absolutely loved the book. Seeing Pam in real life, and hearing her book in her voice really added to my experience when I then read the book myself. I followed that up with Waltzing the Cat which I also enjoyed.

And then I found this book on my friend's shelf. It turns out that my lack of interest in short stories trumped my level of enjoyment in reading Pam Houston. The format just doesn't appea
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed Houston's prose and her adventure stories, but admit that near the end of the book, they seemed to sort of all meld together into one long story. And seemed to verge on creative nonfiction. Other people obviously enjoyed this effect, however, as it was a huge bestseller. I think her best quality is in her narration--simple, yet profound.
Candice Baxter
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pam Houston speaks my language. River. Cowboy. Adventure. Lust. Writing. And the continuous question if a woman’s independence can be balanced in love. What I don’t get is the repeated need of the narrators to follow shitty men to the middle of nowhere.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been stalking me now for a few years in my recommendations. The description always turned me off a little (and, honestly the name). I finally read Deep Creek, and from there I was off like a rocket. This is a book about women. About the taught line between fierce independence and strength and the things that make us weak, despite that strength. Men aren’t heroes in these stories, in fact, more often than not they are inconsiderate and aloof - too busy and arrogant with their own ob ...more
Robin McCarthy
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Reading these stories feels like meeting a new person for the first time and knowing, almost instantly, they will become a dear friend. Reading these stories is like the first real conversation with that friend, where you hear yourself saying "Oh my god, me too!" so often that you wind up irritating even yourself.

This book smells like cold weather and sweat. Wood smoke.

Feels like wool blankets. Tastes like warm tomato, fresh off the vine.

I would recommend this book to friends who have taken a
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writers-writers
Later, when we were safe and on the two-lane heading home, Jack told me we were never in any real danger, and I let him get away with it because I knew that’s what he had to tell himself to get past almost losing me.

“The river gave us both a lesson in respect,” he said, and it occurred to me then that he thought he had a chance to tame that wild river, but I knew I was at its mercy from the very beginning, and I thought all along that that was the point.

Well-written stories each from a very sim
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Striking, visual and dare I say poetic short stories about loving all things untamed, including your own heart.

*Note, this edition's cover design (i.e., cowgirl legs with strange cowboy figurine standing in-between them) is laughable and just plain awful - do not judge this book by that particular cover*
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be read by all young women... But there is a line from an article that Pam Houston wrote that should go with the book, "Unsurprisingly, I'd become good at finding men who had little to give." There are so many layers to this book, and whether all fiction or not, reading this book gives you insight to Pam Houston - as well as many of the rest of us, old or young. This book will make you think on how we become who we become... (Reading Deep Creek gives you more insight...)
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book when I read it in the 1990s and I still love it today. She writes such amazing female characters, and, while she romanticizes rural living and wilderness adventures, she has a decidedly unromantic view of male/female relationships. Her writing is wise and her rye sense of humor makes it all go down so easy.
Ellen Terry
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shout out to Sonja for recommending this book! I never would of picked it solely based on title, but it was funny and smart and really sucked me in. It probably helps that the characters in each story are 30ish-year-old women living in the west. But like the real west, not the west that I’ve lived in, which makes it even more interesting.
Crystal Beran
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Replace the cowboys with broody musicians and the series of protagonists, all in their late 20's, distill down into one woman who is me. I asked this book, in the margin on page 26, if it was a mirror when it said, "I saw a series of men--wild in their own way--who thought because I said I wanted security and commitment, I did. Sometimes it seems this simple: I tamed them and made them dull as fence posts..." Advice for future love interests: listen to my history, not to my words because I'll on ...more
Daniel Perry
The author is quite in tune with the natural world about which she writes - that of Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, primarily - but I struggled with the similarity from story to story; the author never quite committed to a common protagonist, but never stopped hinting that the characters might be recurring, either. As a group, they go together thematically, but when so similar I have to wonder why the stories weren't at least arranged chronologically, to allow a narrative from one to the ne ...more
May 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories about women, relationships, independence, travel, and the outdoors. The stories are brief and interesting. Kind of on the cheezy, touch-feely side, but I tend to like that. Also, I think from the very start I just kind of liked the author,... her voice and approach and outlook, and consequently had a greater appreciation for her accounts. A quick read, and a good one to just pick up briefly or at intervals.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, stories
SO MUCH LOVE for this smart, lean, hard-yet-tender collection of linked stories. It made me terribly nostalgic, even though I was in kindergarten in 1992, so it's more of an ache for something I never had. Favorites: Cowboys Are My Weakness, In My Next Life, What Shock Heard, Dall, and How to Talk to a Hunter.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
Recommended to Hollie by: Rice Univ workshop
This book made me wish I was more outdoorsy---it's a collection short stories by Pam Houston, who heads the UC Davis creative writing program. It's not too literary where you feel like you're in over your head, just very strong women who can and cannot remove themselves from sometimes abusive sometimes boring relationships.
Allison Daily
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pam Houston knows how to write a book! She is an amazingly clear, funny, honest writer who can make you laugh as hard as she can make you cry. This book is for all of you who are looking for a fun book to read that it's own way will make you think about your own life and how you are living it!
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i'm so in love w/this book and her stories. i LOVE reading abt camping and hunting and campers and hunters and horses and cowboys and men and women in love. so i do believe this book will be in my list of favorites, indeed.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful collection of stories this is. Each one had something so profound to say, building up to the finale of "In My Next Life", a beautiful tribute to friendship and love.
Nikki Duvall
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The title says it all. I don't care whether they can construct a coherent sentence, they make we weak at the knees. This is an educated intelligent woman talking. What is there about these guys?
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Play Book Tag: Cowboys are My Weakness - Pam Houston - 3 stars 2 10 Dec 29, 2016 04:53PM  

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Houston is the Director of Creative Writing at U.C. Davis. Her stories have been selected for the Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and the Best American Short Stories of the Century. She lives in Colorado at 9,000 feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
“Life gives us what we need when we need it; receiving what it gives us is a whole other thing.” 23 likes
“When he says "Skins or blankets?" it will take you a moment to realized that he's asking which you want to sleep under. And in your hesitation he'll decide that he wants to see your skin wrapped in the big black moose hide. He carried it, he'll say, soaking wet and heavier than a dead man, across the tundra for two—was it hours or days or weeks? But the payoff, now, will be to see it fall across one of your white breasts. It's December, and your skin is never really warm, so you will pull the bulk of it around you and pose for him, pose for his camera, without having to narrate this moose's death.” 6 likes
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