Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories

( 20 )

Overview

"Exhilarating, like a swift ride through river rapids with a spunky, sexy gal handling the oars."—Washington Post Book World
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 ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (67) from $1.99   
  • New (12) from $1.99   
  • Used (55) from $1.99   
Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$14.95 List Price

Overview

"Exhilarating, like a swift ride through river rapids with a spunky, sexy gal handling the oars."—Washington Post Book World
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.

The Los Angeles Times calls it a "brilliant collection of stories . . . that strike at the heart. . . . Houston claims for women the terrain staked out by male writers from Hemingway to Richard Ford." Here are 12 shrewd and funny stories about smart women looking for the love of a good man, and men who are wild and hard to pin down.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
“Houston's voice is something new in fiction-bright, edgy, touching, and ruefully self-aware as she rewrites the old heterosexual blues....Her heroines are lean and tough, self-created adventurers.”
Los Angeles Times
“Brilliant....Houston claims for women the terrain staked out by male writers from Hemingway to Richard Ford....Her voice is wholly formed and perfect.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A collection of smart, surefooted stories, full of humor, intelligence and a kind of steely-eyed wonder....These are the stories that might have emerged had an intelligent woman followed Hemingway around.”
San Francisco Chronicle
These are the stories that might have emerged had an intelligent woman followed Hemingway around.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Jan.)
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.
San Francisco Chronicle
These are the stories that might have emerged had an intelligent woman followed Hemingway around.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326352
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 171
  • Sales rank: 277,333
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Pam Houston divides her time between her ranch in Colorado and the University of California at Davis, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program. She has been a frequent contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, and her writing appears regularly in More and other publications. She in the author of the best-selling Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

How to talk to a hunter 13
Selway 21
Highwater 42
For Bo 60
What shock heard 69
Dall 85
Cowboys are my weakness 108
Jackson is only one of my dogs 126
A blizzard under blue sky 133
Sometimes you talk about Idaho 140
Symphony 152
In my next life 156
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

"How to Talk to a Hunter" When he says "Skins or blankets?" it will take you a moment to realize 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.

You will spend every night in this man's bed without asking yourself why he listens to top-forty country. Why he donated money to the Republican Party. Why he won't play back his messages while you are in the room. You are there so often the messages pile up. Once you noticed the bright green counter reading as high as fifteen.

He will have lured you here out of a careful independence that you spent months cultivating; though it will finally be winter, the dwindling daylight and the threat of Christmas, that makes you give in. Spending nights with this man means suffering the long face of your sheepdog, who likes to sleep on your bed, who worries when you don't come home. But the hunter's house is so much warmer than yours, and he'll give you a key, and just like a woman, you'll think that means something. It will snow hard for thirteen straight days. Then it will really get cold. When it is sixty below there will be no wind and no clouds, just still air and cold sunshine. The sun on the windows will lure you out of bed, but he'll pull you back under. The next two hours he'll devote to your body. With his hands, with his tongue, he'll express what will seem to you like the most eternal of loves. Like the house key, this is just another kind of lie. Even in bed; especially in bed, you and he cannot speak the same language. The machine will answer the incoming calls. From under an ocean of passion and hide and hair you'll hear a woman's muffled voice between the beeps.


Your best female friend will say, "So what did you think? That a man who sleeps under a dead moose is capable of commitment?"


This is what you learned in college: A man desires the satisfaction of his desire; a woman desires the condition of desiring.

The hunter will talk about spring in Hawaii, summer in Alaska. The man who says he was always better at math will form the sentences so carefully it will be impossible to tell if you are included in these plans. When he asks you if you would like to open a small guest ranch way out in the country, understand that this is a rhetorical question. Label these conversations future perfect, but don't expect the present to catch up with them. Spring is an inconceivable distance from the December days that just keep getting shorter and gray.

He'll ask you if you've ever shot anything, if you'd like to, if you ever thought about teaching your dog to retrieve. Your dog will like him too much, will drop the stick at his feet every time, will roll over and let the hunter scratch his belly.


One day he'll leave you sleeping to go split wood or get the mail and his phone will ring again. You'll sit very still while a woman who calls herself something like Janie Coyote leaves a message on his machine: She's leaving work, she'll say, and the last thing she wanted to hear was the sound of his beautiful voice. Maybe she'll talk only in rhyme. Maybe the counter will change to sixteen. You'll look a question at the mule deer on the wall, and the dark spots on either side of his mouth will tell you he shares more with this hunter than you ever will. One night, drunk, the hunter told you he was sorry for taking that deer, that every now and then there's an animal that isn't meant to be taken, and he should have known that deer was one.


Your best male friend will say, "No one who needs to call herself Janie Coyote can hold a candle to you, but why not let him sleep alone a few nights, just to make sure?"


The hunter will fill your freezer with elk burger, venison sausage, organic potatoes, fresh pecans. He'll tell you to wear your seat belt, to dress warmly, to drive safely. He'll say you are always on his mind, that you're the best thing that's ever happened to him, that you make him glad that he's a man.

Tell him it don't come easy, tell him freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.


These are the things you'll know without asking: The coyote woman wears her hair in braids. She uses words like "howdy." She's man enough to shoot a deer.


A week before Christmas you'll rent It's a Wonderful Life and watch it together, curled on your couch, faces touching. Then you'll bring up the word "monogamy." He'll tell you how badly he was hurt by your predecessor. He'll tell you he couldn't be happier spending every night with you. He'll say there's just a few questions he doesn't have the answers for. He'll say he's just scared and confused. Of course this isn't exactly what he means. Tell him you understand. Tell him you are scared too. Tell him to take all the time he needs. Know that you could never shoot an animal; and be glad of it.


Your best female friend will say, "You didn't tell him you loved him, did you?" Don't even tell her the truth. If you do you'll have to tell her that he said this: "I feel exactly the same way."


Your best male friend will say, "Didn't you know what would happen when you said the word 'commitment'?"

But that isn't the word that you said.

He'll say, "Commitment, monogamy, it all means just one thing."


The coyote woman will come from Montana with the heavier snows. The hunter will call you on the day of the solstice to say he has a friend in town and can't see you. He'll leave you hanging your Christmas lights; he'll give new meaning to the phrase "longest night of the year." The man who has said he's not so good with words will manage to say eight things about his friend without using a gender-determining pronoun. Get out of the house quickly. Call the most understanding person you know who will let you sleep in his bed.


Your best female friend will say, "So what did you think? That he was capable of living outside his gender?"


When you get home in the morning there's a candy tin on your pillow. Santa, obese and grotesque, fondles two small children on the lid. The card will say something like "From your not-so-secret admirer." Open it. Examine each carefully made truffle. Feed them, one at a time, to the dog. Call the hunter's machine. Tell him you don't speak chocolate.


Your best female friend will say, "At this point, what is it about him that you could possibly find appealing?"

Your best male friend will say, "Can't you understand that this is a good sign? Can't you understand that this proves how deep he's in with you?" Hug your best male friend. Give him the truffles the dog wouldn't eat.


Of course the weather will cooperate with the coyote woman. The highways will close, she will stay another night. He'll tell her he's going to work so he can come and see you.

He'll even leave her your number and write "Me at Work" on the yellow pad of paper by his phone. Although you shouldn't, you'll have to be there. It will be you and your nauseous dog and your half-trimmed tree all waiting for him like a series of questions.


This is what you learned in graduate school: In every assumption is contained the possibility of its opposite.


In your kitchen he'll hug you like you might both die there. Sniff him for coyote. Don't hug him back.

He will say whatever he needs to to win. He'll say it's just an old friend. He'll say the visit was all the friend's idea. He'll say the night away from you has given him time to think about how much you mean to him. Realize that nothing short of sleeping alone will ever make him realize how much you mean to him. He'll say that if you can just be a little patient, some good will come out of this for the two of you after all. He still won't use a gender-specific pronoun.

Put your head in your hands. Think about what it means to be patient. Think about the beautiful, smart, strong, clever woman you thought he saw when he looked at you. Pull on your hair. Rock your body back and forth. Don't cry.

He'll say that after holding you it doesn't feel right holding anyone else. For "holding," substitute "fucking." Then take it as a compliment.

He will get frustrated and rise to leave. He may or may not be bluffing. Stall for time. Ask a question he can't immediately answer. Tell him you want to make love on the floor. When he tells you your body is beautiful say, "I feel exactly the same way." Don't, under any circumstances, stand in front of the door.

Your best female friend will say, "They lie to us, they cheat on us, and we love them more for it." She'll say, "It's our fault; we raise them to be like that."

Tell her it can't be your fault. You've never raised anything but dogs.


The hunter will say it's late and he has to go home to sleep. He'll emphasize the last word in the sentence. Give him one kiss that he'll remember while he's fucking the coyote woman. Give him one kiss that ought to make him cry if he's capable of it, but don't notice when he does. Tell him to have a good night.


Your best male friend will say, "We all do it. We can't help it. We're self-destructive. It's the old bad-boy routine. You have a male dog, don't you?"


The next day the sun will be out and the coyote woman will leave. Think about how easy it must be for a coyote woman and a man who listens to top-forty country. The coyote woman would never use a word like "monogamy"; the coyote woman will stay gentle on his mind.


If you can, let him sleep alone for at least one night. If you can't, invite him over to finish trimming your Christmas tree. When he asks how you are, tell him you think its a good idea to keep your sense of humor during the holidays.

Plan to be breezy and aloof and full of interesting anecdotes about all the other men you've ever known. Plan to be hotter than ever before in bed, and a little cold out of it. Remember that necessity is the mother of invention. Be flexible.

First, he will find the faulty bulb that's been keeping all the others from lighting. He will explain, in great detail, the most elementary electrical principles. You will take turns placing the ornaments you and other men, he and other women, have spent years carefully choosing. Under the circumstances, try to let this be a comforting thought.

He will thin the clusters of tinsel you put on the tree. He'll say something ambiguous like "Next year you should string popcorn and cranberries." Finally, his arm will stretch just high enough to place the angel on the top of the tree.


Your best female friend will say, "Why can't you ever fall in love with a man who will be your friend?"

Your best male friend will say, "You ought to know this by now: Men always cheat on the best women."


This is what you learned in the pop psychology book: Love means letting go of fear.


Play Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper." He'll ask you to dance, and before you can answer he'll be spinning you around your wood stove, he'll be humming in your ear. Before the song ends he'll be taking off your clothes, setting you lightly under the tree, hovering above you with tinsel in his hair. Through the spread of the branches the all-white lights you insisted on will shudder and blur, outlining the ornaments he brought: a pheasant, a snow goose, a deer.

The record will end. Above the crackle of the wood stove and the rasp of the hunter's breathing you'll hear one long low howl break the quiet of the frozen night: your dog, chained and lonely and cold. You'll wonder if he knows enough to stay in his doghouse. You'll wonder if he knows that the nights are getting shorter now.

Copyright © 1992 by Pam Houston

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2013

    Great fun: intelligent, special. Strongly recommended; like anyt

    Great fun: intelligent, special. Strongly recommended; like anything wonderful, this book will be different for every individual. YES.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Helloooo.

    Hi, can I sing U a song?
    Jez

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Mbc

    He woke up and ate the juniper berries. Thank you, he mewed~Mullbeeryclaw

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    TO NORTHERNLIGHTS EMERGENCY

    Some cat wants to kill you!!! Get on your guard! If a cat labeled Pretty Cat wants to talk to you, don't listen!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    Sparklekit

    Smartly cuts both peices in half and nudges an equal amount to each of them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Featherwind

    Yay! Did a little dance.
    ~ Featherwind

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    NorthernLights

    "Maybe food may help…" She gives the cat some freshkill.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    EarthClan-Medicine Cat den

    A shallow pool sits in the middle. Marigold plants grow off the water. A waterfall fills the pool. There is a hole and inside is a den. It has many ledges for herbs and berries. Many nest lie near the pool. Two nest sit up on the a ledge. The Medicine Cat and his or her apprentice sleep here. They can watch over the sick or injured cats. Many seasons of sickness and battles may pass. Hopefully all of EarthClan's cats who enter sick or injured may leave as good as new.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Steadyflight

    Checked the stores.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Fernstar

    This is the medicine cat den

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Cute, delightful, quick read.

    This was a delightful collection of short stories from women narrators describing their relationships with men that could somehow be classified as "cowboys". Each story covered a different relationship, so you're bound to find at least one that you relate to. It would be a wonderful book to read while camping. I wish very much, however, that the author eliminated the final story of a lesbian couple, one of whom succumbs to cancer. It felt incredibily juxtaposed to the rest of the book, as though she snuck it in there just to get it published. Overall though, I would recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2010

    houston's take on "the heterosexual blues" is just right.

    Cowboys Are My Weakness is a collection of short stories by Pam Houston. I've enjoyed having this book around more than I expected - the review snippet on the front cover says "Houston's voice is bright, edgy, and ruefully self-conscious as she rewrites the old heterosexual blues," and quite frankly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

    While these stories are about the age-old struggle (yes, they're L-word stories) between men and women, they're not necessarily what you'd think. The protagonists are self-aware and intelligent, and more than anything the stories are about them. It's not just boy-meets-girl, there are friends and dogs and settings that carry these stories into a new level of the literary. Houston's voice and tone are impeccable, and there is a passion in her writing (for men and for nature and the earth and for her dogs and her friends) that will keep you coming back for more.

    The best part about this book is that it fits right into a crazy schedule! You can sit down and read four stories at once, but each story is short enough that you feel fulfilled after even the smallest break from reality. Pick it up whenever you have the chance - you won't regret it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2008

    One of my favorite books of fiction

    I really don't read much fiction, but I genuinely enjoyed this book. Judging by the number of people who have imitated Pam Houston's writing style in the fifteen years since this book was published, many others must also enjoy the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    I could'nt put it Down!

    I loved the way Pam Houston worded her stories! These stories walked me down the Path into her world. Which made it too easy to feel what she was discribing in her tales. Which is Exactly what I believe makes an Outstanding Author!!! I can't wait to read her other shorts. Even though THIS one Really Hit Home for Me! I too have a strong desire for the Hunter/Gatherer kind of Man. I am looking for a short that Pam Houston had done by the Name of " Women know they should know better, but they don't." If anyone can give direction to where I can find this story, that would be Great!( I read the Title on the back of "Cowboys are My Weakness".)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2001

    For those who desire to move out west

    As a woman in my early twenties, about to make the move out to Park City, Utah, this book spoke volumes to me for several reasons that I am incapable of describing adequately. The stories are wonderfully rich in detail without being verbous, the tales engrossing and real. She writes as though you have joined her in the evening as she is reflecting on the day's adventures. Dogs, the beauty of the wilderness and men all dominate her storytelling, somehow intermingling all three seperate subjects with ease and literary grace. If you enjoy nature with the perspective of emotion and life added to it, you cannot go wrong with Pam Houston. One of my favorites behind Tom Robbins.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2000

    Changed My Life

    This book was the best read I have had in the past 13 years. I fell in love with the stories and with the author, Ms. Houston. A critic wrote that she can write anybody's journal. And although her stories were not MY stories, their universal impact has changed my life. How can there not be a God when someone as talented as Ms. Houston exists? 'I will tell you the one thing that must be told:' Read it again and again and again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)