Page-Turningest Author 

Pam Houston

Houston spends half her time in Colorado and half as the director of the creative writing program at UC Davis, but her writing reflects a quirky sensibility Bay Area readers no doubt will find familiar. She did live in these parts at one time, a period memorialized in her autobiographical short-story collection Waltzing the Cat. Houston's gift is her ability to make the personal seem universal. Sure, she may be focused on her own navel, but the way she tells the story, a navel has never seemed so funny or fascinating. Sight Hound, the latest of her four books, is also her first novel, for which she clearly draws a lot of material from her own life. The story is told by a rotating cast of narrators. That's not an uncommon literary device, but here two dogs and a cat get to tell their sides of the story. The main dog narrator, three-legged Irish wolfhound Dante, quotes Buddha and Goethe and believes his role is in this life is "to teach my human that she deserve[s] to be loved," certainly a theme that East Bay pet "guardians" can embrace. For those of us who've spent more in a year on vet bills than we have on our own health care, Houston's book is a gem.

Readers' Pick:
Michael Chabon


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