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Cowboys Are My Weakness [Paperback]

Pam Houston
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 4 2005 Norton Paperback
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 days, even in the West. Our heroines are part daredevil, part philosopher, all acute observers of the nuances of modern romance. They go where their cowboys go, they meet cowboys who don't look the part and they have staunch friends who give them advice when the going gets rough. Cowboys Are My Weakness is a refreshing and realistic look at men and women together and apart."

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A good man is hard to find, but a good cowboy practically impossible. At least that's what the women in this accomplished, witty and engrossing debut short-story collection discover when they fall 10-gallon-hat-over-spurs for the kind of men who go in for roping cattle, not for romance. In "Selway," among the most gripping of these 12 tales, an intrepid young woman rafts through treacherous white water to keep up with her boyfriend, who is as untamed as the river that nearly kills them. Accompanying Boone ("a hunter of the everything-has-to-be-hard-and-painful-to-be-good variety") through the Alaskan wilderness during sheep hunting season, the unnamed narrator of "Dall" learns about male camaraderie, violence and herself. The cowboy enthusiast in the title story, listening to country music, observes, "The men in the songs were all either brutal or inexpressive. . . . The women were victims, every one." But the women featured here aren't victims: they are smart, funny and likable. A gifted storyteller and a fine writer, Houston brings insight and an original perspective to the heavily trafficked gender divide. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Houston, whose short stories have appeared in such periodicals as Mirabella and Mademoiselle , now has her first collection, the highlights of which are "How To Talk to a Hunter," a story selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories, 1990 ( LJ 10/1/90), and "Selway." Though these two stand out, the collection as a whole showcases a fresh, original, strong feminine voice. Houston is almost Hemingway-esque in her spare prose, yet richly eloquent in her descriptions of the Western sensibility. "How To Talk to a Hunter" oozes sensuality and masculinity, while at the same time getting inside the feminine mind in love with a man of few words. Likewise, "Selway" brilliantly shows what the experience of loving an adventurer is like. Houston is a part-time guide in Alaska. This is a strong woman who is wise and cynical but refreshingly optimistic. Her view of man-woman relationships is realistic: wise women get involved with "cowboys" they should know better, but they don't. Recommended.
- Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Cooperative Lib. System, Cal.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Most stories are forgettable June 8 2004
1: How to Talk to a Hunter
I enjoyed the off-handed way this story is narrated. The tone is almost an as-if: the woman narrator sounds like she is talking theoretically, when in fact she is hurting a fair bit.
2: Selway
Story about a couple in a river rafting trip, doing very silly and unsafe things. Now, on page 40, how can the narrator say "He grabbed for a boulder on the bottom", when she is far away and on the shore? This is not crystalline water, this is white water, so her visibility is minimal.
3: Highwater
Good observations! This is for me the best story in the book. Pam Houston almost has a Jim Harrison quality in her writing, because in this story she is gut wrenching and funny at the same time. I loved the resolution. Nothing better than to put things in perspective.
4: For Bo
I am not a dog lover, and get very irritated with people who think dogs should be adored by everyone. I had to sympathize with the very stiff mother and aunt, because having a dog spit and scratch your clothes is not fun. That Pam Houston put me in a position having to sympathize with these cold women is something for which I resent her.
5: What Shock Heard
6: Dall
7: Cowboys are my Weakness
These three stories have the common denominator of women loving men more than viceversa. Although Cowboys are my Weakness has a slightly hopeful ending (up for interpretation: I think she tosses the towel and resigns herself to a life of unhappiness), the bottomline is that in these relationships there is an inherent unevenness, and women get the short end of the stick.
8: Jackson is Only One of my Dogs
What kind of dog eats 14 lbs of anything? This story got me very irritated, with all its psycho-babble.
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Weakness is something to be overcome....not indulged in. These nicely-written stories about women of wide-open spaces and their relationships make it seem as if non-urban women don't have the oomph to tell men where to take the next train. The sadness and emotion that Houston records is real and delicate, but after five of the same type of stories, you begin to dislike the women she prototypes. One of these stories in a collection that was a little more varied would make a better read. Houston writes with sensitivity and wounded dignity, but her book is a little like a collection of country music-haunting and repetitive. "Symphony" was one of my favorite stories, as it portrayed the strongest female in the book. I also loved the way "Sometimes We Talked About Idaho" captured the essence of a short and intense weekend affair, although the way the protagonist chose to cling to the memory was somewhat unstable.
The book reminded me of a country version of "A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Women with LOOWWW self esteem June 5 2002
The book had some decent stories in it. I love her style -- very direct, often sarcastic -- but very blunt in her description of feelings. It's worth reading. But the stories do get redundant as they depict one dysfunktional relationship with all types of eccentric, lying, and unfaithful men. The low self-esteem of the women is pathetic and you just want to jump in and ask why she subjects herself to so much pain and abuse by being with such screwed up men. Hey, maybe that means it's a good does draw you into the story pretty well.
It gets 3 stars because of its redundancy -- the women in the stories are essentially all the same low self-esteemed, pain-loving and adventurous character. Although the setting is different with each story, the story is essentially the same in each one. Like (I'm making this line up) "I know this man treat me [badly] and cheats on me, but that's o.k., I shouldn't leave him just because of that."
But her direct delivery and descriptions like, "He was smart and selfish and lied by omision. I was addicted to him like cough syrup, and I didn't respect his mind," were refreshing to read. Although her characters are messed up, they're at least honest about their messed-up-ness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cowboys don't have to be jerks! July 27 2001
My friends recommended this book to me, and I was really prepared to LOVE it. But, as much fun as it is to read these stories over a weekend, by Sunday night, I found myself disappointed with the whole sort of flat/one sided depiction of relationships. Yes, I can relate to the line, "I've always had this thing for cowboys, maybe because I was born in New Jersey. But a real cowboy is hard to find these days, even in the West." And as someone who grew up in Connecticut and moved West, I agree that there's a truth to the concept of a western type of guy that you don't find on the East coast. I thought this book would be about that difference. But after about 4 stories, all these men start to sound the same-- and no different from the wrong men anywhere. Charming, evasive, manipulative, self-centered. So it turns out Houston isn't writing about cowboys--guys who are truly passionate about the outdoor life and adventure. This book, it turns out, is about the wrong guy, over and over! And I find that boring.
Also-- I don't know, maybe it's the guys Pam Houston knows.... but in my experience, many "bad boys" have a sensitive, decent side to them... which comes through in a pinch. The guys in these stories, are just totally stereotypical immature womanizers through and through, and that doesn't really ring true to me. I also found myself getting impatient with the narrator, who seems very similar in each story. Initially, she seems independent and gutsy, but soon you notice that her complete energy and thought is taken up with "the care and feeding of the man." And in many stories, she is a victim. Does she really love adventure, or is she just trying to keep up with these men and be what they want her to be?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight that seems to be misunderstood by some reviewers
I was reading with pleasure Pam Houston's "Cowboys.." and after finishing 'Jackson is Only One of My Dogs' decided to order more of her work and went into Amazon. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Sinan Cebenoyan
4.0 out of 5 stars Published as fiction, but does anyone believe THAT?
Pam Houston's fictional characters somehow to always seem like the great lady herself, eccentric, strong, athletic, daring, and tough. And then there are the men. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Peggy Vincent
2.0 out of 5 stars Redundant
If you think you might want to read this book, at least get it from the library, then all you will have wasted is a few hours of your time. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Jim
4.0 out of 5 stars Cowboys and Rotten Apples
We all have dreams about what our perfect man would be like - for some it would be the real Cowboy, the kind you see in movies. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2002 by Ramona Honan
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Single Woman
Or any woman. She articulates the struggle with our demons better than most.
Published on Sept. 20 2001 by Julie S.
2.0 out of 5 stars I think I missed something
Although Ok to read,I didn't particularly connect, I think. I agree with another reader who said these men were not cowboys, just everyday losers. Read more
Published on June 13 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars I think I missed something
Although Ok to read,I didn't particularly connect, I think. I agree with another reader who said these men were not cowboys, just everyday losers. Read more
Published on June 13 2001 by Jodie Skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars This book gets under your skin.
This book chronicles the life of a woman in love with the outdoors, adventure, and men. I read this book for the first time 9 years ago, and I still return to it to reread some of... Read more
Published on March 3 2001 by Spacemom
4.0 out of 5 stars good stories. not mostly good men.
I read the first story here and I thought "I know this man." Charming, fun, totally evasive of serious discussion, running all over town, sexy in his absolute... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2001 by Lalalalaura
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