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Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country

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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,096 ratings  ·  422 reviews
Beloved writer and teacher Pam Houston explores what ties her to the earth in essays as lucid and invigorating as mountain air.

How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us. In her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, Pam Houston explores what ties her to the earthher 120-acre homestead in the Colorado Rockies most of all. Here, elk calves
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,096 ratings  ·  422 reviews


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Laura
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A balm for the soul, a visit with an old friend, a love song to the Earth. This book was all that and more. Cowboys Are My Weakness was a touchstone for me when I was in my mid-twenties, and this book served as a reminder of the fiery, uncertain young woman I once was and an illustration of how far Ive come to be comfortable in my own life since then. Im grateful to writers like Pam Houston who put themselves out in the world to provide gentle guidance to so many readers they likely will never ...more
Kristi Holmes Espineira
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book with my entire heart. Read this book if:

... youve ever fallen in love with a piece of land, especially in the Colorado mountains
... the fate of this planet has ever brought you to tears
... you love animals more than humans (at least sometimes)
... youve survived things you should never have had to survive
... you are a brave woman, or not so brave just yet but you want to be
... you loved Cheryl Strayeds Wild, Thoreaus Walden, Terry Tempest Williams Refuge or any the other great
...more
Antigone
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
Pam Houston, author and English professor, purchased a ranch on a wing and a prayer some twenty-plus years ago. She turns now, in mid-life, to examine what this Colorado homestead has meant to her in terms of finance, labor, lifestyle, and healing from the deep and dismal wounds of an abusive childhood. Beating beneath the text of a rich and beautifully depicted existence on a modern-day frontier is the racing heart of a daughter who could not relax a single day in residence with her father or ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Thoughts soon.
Katie
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took me awhile to write this review because I am still getting over the excitement of reading a new book from Pam Houston. Her writing was moving and I felt like I could see her ranch and all of the places she described so beautifully. This is an important book about being a woman, an environmentalist, and a writer. Her voice is so refreshing and it will be the perfect read for welcoming 2019.
Rebecca
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rebecca by: Cheryl Strayed
These autobiographical essays are full of the love of place, chiefly the ranch in Colorado that Houston bought for 5 percent down in 1993 from the profits of her first book. It has grounded her to have this haven to come back to during a nomadic career of teaching stints and book tours. Moreover, it has been a stand-in for the loving family home she never had: her mother was an alcoholic and anorexic; her violent father sexually abused her.

Nature has been a healing force, whether traveling to
...more
Heather Fineisen
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Pam Houston for the way she loves. Be it cowboys, her animals, writing or in this volume her ranch. Houston is at her best here, in love with the land. Her essay on the fire that devastated the surrounding area was interesting if a bit too detailed and off balance with the rest of her writings. Not disappointed, I love my own animals a little bit more. And myself.
Vivek Tejuja
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pam Houstons Deep Creek has to be read, actually savoured with enough time on your hand. It cannot and shouldnt be rushed with. This book is about home and place and what is their meaning to someone who has spent half her life travelling around the world. More than that though, it is about the places we inhabit, the landscapes we belong to, the daily rituals of living and caring for people around you. Deep Creek is all about celebrating nature, and above that survival not only in the wilderness, ...more
Tina Humphrey Boogren
An exquisite love letter to Colorado and the Earth. So beautiful.
Jessica
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I LOVE to read books about farming/farms because I have a fantasy about that life (mostly that I would be really good at it and love every minute of it) and they always leave me feeling like time is slipping away and I have to DO IT NOW and I spend the next five days looking at farm properties that can't meet my requirements and making plans to buy one anyway because I WILL LEARN HOW TO USE A HAMMER! (It's kind of exhausting...)

I can't say I love travel books but since I can't travel myself, I
...more
Kay
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I had to get over myself to enjoy this book. I was actually really kind of jealous, because Pam is living out one of the dreams I had as a little girl. I wanted to be a writer, live in a cabin like Thoreau, get published, and be famous. But mostly I wanted to worship nature by living off the land. "What can she say that I couldn't?" I thought, huffily, and a maybe a litter bitter, as I sat in my comfy arm chair in a stick-built ranch-style house in a typical subdivision in small town America, my ...more
Sara Cutaia
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pam Houston's writing is the most comforting and encouraging writing that tackles the horrors and pains of this world that I've ever read. With prose that sings, she takes you through the years that she's lived on her 120-acre ranch in Creede, Colorado, and relays the joys and terrors she's experienced while there. Hers is a story of resilience, and it was even before she had to take care of ranch animals, and deal with elevation, and survive winters and fires at 9000 ft., but the ranch taught ...more
Julie
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Any book that brings me to tears on multiple occasions deserves all the stars.

I expected a lot. It packed way more wallop.
Melissa
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
""For now, I want to sit vigil with the earth the same way I did with Fenton. I want to write unironic odes to her beauty, which is still potent, if not completely intact. The language of the wilderness is the most beautiful language we have and it is our job to sing it, until and even after it is gone, no matter how much it hurts. It we don't, we are left with only a hollow chuckle, and our big brains who made this mess, our big brains that stopped believing a long time ago in beauty, in ...more
Jessica
Nov 19, 2018 added it
Shelves: literature, 2018
9,000 feet above sea level is a Place, a ranch, surrounded by mountains on most sides. It has allowed a Jersey Girl nursing a myriad of wounds to heal, grow, and love. This poignant ode to Place, to nature, to natural beauty, and ultimately optimism - is a pushback against cynicism and meanness. It provides the same inevitable hope that comes with the first shoots of grass in the pasture. It champions the idea that there is safety in saving - in reaching out, in trusting to everyday grace.
Emily
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country and as I turned the last page, I thought, I am so glad I read this book. Im a Colorado native, and though I grew up on the front range, far away from Creede where most of Houstons love letter to her ranch is set, but reading her writing made me homesick in the best kind of way. I loved this book. ...more
Mark
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I have spent most of my life outside, but for the last three years, I have been walking five miles a day, minimum, wherever I am, urban or rural, and can attest to the magnitude of the natural beauty that is left. Beauty worth seeing, worth singing, worth saving, whatever that word can mean now. There is beauty in a desert, even one that is expanding. There is beauty in the ocean, even one that is on the rise. And even if the jig is up, even if it is really game over, what better time to sing ...more
Andrea McDowell
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was beautiful. I've already listened to it twice.

Houston ties together her own difficult early years and fraught family relationships, her work and writing and friendships, and a truly epic wildfire that threatened her beloved home, into an exploration of what non-human nature means to her and how to stay with the places and landscapes we love as climate breakdown changes them beyond all recognition or destroys them. The writing is gorgeous and her story weaves back and forth between the
...more
Stephany Wilkes
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Memoir, yes, but as much a memoir of climate, planet, and place as it is about the author and her ranch. I loved the levels of story here: home as a planet, as a ranch, as safety in changing conditions that maybe aren't really safe for anything, anymore. The timing and material in this book are so important: We're in the earliest years of living through the dramatic and severe consequences of climate changes we've been warned about for decades. How we feel, talk, and write about what's happening ...more
Ariel
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blown away by this lovely book. It reads like the best, engaging fiction but has the oomph and meaningfulness of memoir. Houston is such a lovely writer. I am surprised and delighted that I am just discovering her now. Of course, this is not a book for everyone. Its not perfect. Yet, within the first chapter, it burrowed inside my head and inside my heart.

Read it for the section on saying goodbye to her dog (which beautifully takes us by the hand and leads readers into the books thread of
...more
Liz
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my goodness this book is wonderful. I would have given it 10 stars if I could. She made me laugh, she made me cry, she made me go back and re-read sections... I had requested the library buy the ebook version of this and they did and that is what I read. But she also made me go and buy my own copy because I am pretty sure I will be returning to this book again and again. So far the best book I have read this year, and I think it will be hard to beat. I am writing a longer review for the ...more
Ilse
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't have thought it possible to get so emotionally invested in a place I've never been to, but if anything happens to this Colorado ranch I would be devastated. I sometimes struggle with memoirs/biography type books as they often get bogged down with too many date/time/place details and this book really stays away from that. It's beautifully written and makes me want to sell my house and all my possessions and move out to the wilderness; or at least spend a lot more time outdoors.
Marcy Dermansky
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deep Creek was my impulse purchase this weekend and it was just the right book. Pam Houston's story is so fascinating. Her love for the beauty of this planet in the midst of climate change is thoughtful and sincere. The essay about the forest fires that almost destroy her ranch is terrifying -- and makes me think of Australia, currently on fire. It's about how to be a writer. How to live. Survive a horrible childhood. The prose is so clean and effective. I also wish I had bought a ranch with ...more
Chris
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this revealing memoir and meditation on wilderness and place Pam Houston lays bare her soul and her love for her little piece of paradise- 120 acres at 9,000 feet near the headwaters of the Rio Grande in South Central Colorado. Sadly to pay for living the dream she is often away from it for at least half the year teaching and conducting seminars on writing. Perhaps these necessary absences increase her ardor for the place. But paradise is a misnomer. Its a tough place to live in the winter ...more
Marjorie Elwood
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Houston has led an astonishing life she had been in 16 wrecks that totaled the vehicle before the age of 16 and is quite self-aware about the motivations in her life: After high school, having gotten out of my parents house alive, I predictably replaced the dangers inherent there with risks of my own choosing. Despite the abject failures of her parents, she has a strong faith in humanity and when she writes about wilderness, its luminescent and captivating; writing about her ranch, its less ...more
Sam
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Some of the essays and writing in this memoir is poignant and gripped my attention, especially Houston's descriptions of her childhood and how her connection to the ranch and the security it gave her to overcome the childhood trauma. All those parts of the book are 4, 5 star in my books.

The books is a set of essays about her childhood, living on her ranch and what it means to her. And then fire, outdoor travels, etc.

But other chapters were 2 star for me. Some were likely made more frustrating
...more
Lukie
Despite, and considering, the abuse she suffered growing up, Houston's embrace of life, and the many challenges she encourages, is inspiring. Foremost, her insights about finding joy in her love of nature even whilst grieving the damage to the natural world, is balm for my soul and a helpful guide. It was with regret that I finished this book.
Jen
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-women-2019
Perhaps because I have been reading some really amazing things lately, this fell flat. Clearly, I am in the minority. Everyone has their cup of tea, this just isn't mine
Susan
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Could a person mourn and be joyful simultaneously? I understood it as the challenge of the twenty-first century. Maybe it was simply what being a grown-up meant."

I will read anything Pam Houston writes...and I have, following her through the cowboy affairs of her 20s , where I first encountered her stories, to the globe-trotting, adrenaline-searching autobiographical fiction of her 30s and 40s. In all of this, Mother Earth and her four-legged creatures have been primary characters in Houston's
...more
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Around the Year i...: Deep Creek, by Pam Houston 1 8 Apr 27, 2019 06:20AM  

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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.

Articles featuring this book

Authors tend to be very well-read people. To help you find some excellent summer reads, we rounded up authors from across ...
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“It's hard for anybody to put their finger on the moment when life changes from being something that is nearly all in front of you to something that happened while your attention was elsewhere.” 7 likes
“Somewhere in the process I started writing toward an answer to the question I wake up with every morning and go to bed with every night. How do I find hope on a dying planet, and if there is no hope to be found, how do I live in its absence? In what state of being? Respect? Tenderness? Unmitigated love? The rich and sometimes deeply clarifying dreamscape of vast inconsolable grief?” 3 likes
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