Parnassus Books welcomes Pam Houston author of Deep Creek and Cynthia N. Martin author of Tidal Flats.
About Deep Creek:
At 31 years old, fresh off a tour promoting her first collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness, Pam Houston had “no job, no place to lie except my North Face tent.” On an impulse and a good instinct, she spent her royalties on a 120 acre ranch near Creede, Colorado. It was more than she could afford, and required more maintenance than she could manage. And yet, 25 years later, it’s the piece of land that’s defined the largest part of her life. DEEP CREEK: FINDING HOPE IN THE HIGH COUNTRY tells the remarkable story of “that girl who dared herself to buy a ranch, dared herself to dig in and care for it, to work hard enough to pay for it, to figure out what other people mean when they use the world ‘home.”’
Houston’s childhood was marked by her parents’ alcoholism and abuse—harrowing experiences, which with Houston’s deft hand are imparted in a way that’s both straightforward and deeply affecting. Somehow, even more shocking than her surviving multiple car wrecks at the hands of her alcoholic parents, are her strength of spirit and openness of heart, qualities that illuminate every page. It’s no wonder that despite the seclusion of her ranch, Houston is never without friends, from writers like Antonya Nelson, and Robert Boswell, to practical strangers who have her back in every situation. What she refers to in her writing courses as “Jaws-of-Life characters” manifest themselves throughout Deep Creek. There are the locals who come to her aid when she’s snowed in, the woman who shelters her as a child from her volatile parents, a surgeon who performs an astonishing operation on her pulverized arm, a wise neighbor who tactfully keeps the ranch from being sold out from under her, and firefighters who risk their lives to try and keep a massive wildfire from destroying her ranch.
Encompassing Houston’s childhood, her adventures, and her details of everyday life at the ranch, Deep Creek is above all, a testament. In holding on to her ranch, Houston carved a life to support her spirit and her talents, and discovered that she could be the cowboy of her own story. “I know,” she explains, “that when I claimed these 120 acres they also claimed me. We are each other’s mutual saviors.”
About Pam Houston:
Pam Houston is the author of Contents May Have Shifted, Cowboys Are My Weakness, Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me. Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards. She co-founded the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, is professor of English at UC Davis, teaches in The Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program, and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.
About Tidal Flats:
This is the story of a marriage. Mary Cassatt Miller falls for famous photojournalist Ethan Graham, who is equally in love with her. But for months at a time, Ethan’s work takes him to the dangerous streets of Afghanistan, and Cass wants a husband who comes home at night. Then there’s the issue of family—he wants one; she doesn’t. Actually, even thinking about children is troubling for Cass after growing up with a mother who didn’t want her and a father who was never home.
Plus there’s the accident she witnessed as a young girl. What Cass and Ethan do want is a life together, so Ethan agrees that after three years, he will stop traveling—whether Cass agrees to children or not.
Now, nine weeks before their third anniversary—the day Ethan will be home for good—Cass anticipates all that the future will bring. In addition to Ethan at home, later in the year she will become the director of Atlanta’s Howell House, the Westside home for three older women, known to the staff as the Fates. These strong women give Cass something Ethan cannot—a layer above her.
When Ethan tells Cass he’s going to squeeze in one last trip to Afghanistan before their anniversary to make sure his new project gets off the ground, she worries even more than usual for his safety, wondering if he will ever give up the work he loves. And if he won’t, well, she will not repeat the life her parents had. As the clock counts down, it doesn’t help that Singer, the artist-bartender, is always in Atlanta, and the enthralling Setara, the subject of Ethan’s most famous photograph, is also his business partner overseas. Then, a new danger in Afghanistan changes everything.
In this elegant and honest debut novel, one couple must navigate that fine line between the things they want for themselves and the life they want together, and it appears that each will have to make a choice—the person they love or the life they want.
Cynthia Newberry Martin holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has served as the Review Editor for Contrary Magazine and the Writing Life Editor for Hunger Mountain. Her website features the How We Spend Our Days series, over a decade of essays by writers on their lives. She grew up in Atlanta and now lives in Columbus, Georgia, with her husband, and in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in a little house by the water. Tidal Flats is her first novel.