Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston
Tell us about your new book. What is its central project?
My book is a memoir detailing, in particular, the last 25 years of my life. When I was thirty one years old, fresh out of grad school, I sold my first book of short stories to W.W. Norton, and when my agent gave me the check she said, don't spend it all on hiking boots. I took that advice very seriously and put the entire check ($21,000.00) toward a homestead at 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies, a 120 acres high mountain meadow ranch. That decision altered the course of my life, turned me into an adult, a person who could show up when it was required. The animals I raise there (dogs, horses, donkeys, Icelandic sheep and chickens) have taught me how to live and how to die. The book is about my relationship with that piece of ground, how it has helped heal me from an abusive, violent family of origin, and it is also about my fear and grief about the climate catastrophe we are in the middle of, and my determination to continue to love the world even though it is dying at our hands.
What got you started thinking about this set of problems in this way?
My editor at my long time publisher, W.W. Norton, asked me to think about a book length adventure I could go on for my next book. I think she had in mind something like sailing the coast of Turkey, or mushing dogs to the North Pole, both things I would definitely be up for. I made of list of adventures, including the two above, but a few weeks later I was driving home to Colorado after a long teaching quarter in Davis, and as I got closer and closer to home I realized, wait a minute, I am in the middle of my book length adventure and it is buying this ranch.
If you could pair your book with one other text, what would you recommend? Why?
Maybe The Meadow, by James Galvin, because that book is definitely about one person's relationship to a piece of ground.
Deep Creek was published by W.W. Norton. You can find it here.