Booklist Reviews 2018 November #2
*Starred Review* Houston's (Contents May Have Shifted, 2012) latest essay collection wields scorching honesty and heartfelt reflection that will certainly be welcomed by her many fans. Channeling Annie Proulx's Bird Cloud (2011), Houston writes of her 120-acre homestead in Creede, Colorado, in bracing prose that brings alive her love of the West as a place of "headstrong break-your-heart-blue" that captured her soul when she acquired it after the success of her best-seller, Cowboys Are My Weakness? (1992). Whether chronicling the threats in wildfire country or the poignant joys and sorrows of life with pets and livestock, Houston firmly establishes herself as a key voice from the rural West. Even more significantly, she writes of the blistering wounds that linger from her childhood, the burden she forever shoulders, carrying that "different brand of love for a parent you can't ever trust." Her search for a home to make her own, far from memories and deeply entrenched in the history of the land's pioneer past, took Houston through a literary reckoning that cuts to the bone while offering succor for a shattered youth. Always impressive, Houston is in striking form here. Her talent remains remarkable and her words extraordinarily affecting and effective. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 August #1
Essayist and fiction writer Houston, who first roped in readers with Cowboys Are My Weakness, here limns her relationship to nature by focusing on her 120-acre homestead in the Colorado Rockies.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2018 November #2
Novelist and essayist Houston (Contents May Have Shifted) turns to personal territory in this memoir of more than 20 years of ranch living in Colorado. Practical details, including chores, weather, and isolation are interspersed with chapters on seasonal change and natural beauty. Houston builds an ecosystem of dogs, horses, sheep, chickens, and miniature donkeys among native elk and coyotes, and peoples her wilderness with friends, visiting writers, helpful neighbors, and ranch sitters. Her breathless day-by-day account of a series of wildfires in 2013 that burned thousands of acres, including the mountains and valleys surrounding her land, demonstrate her fervent respect for nature. She also offers tender recollections of difficult topics such as child abuse and grief. Her travels as a teacher and writer to support herself and the ranch help to bring a global range to her observations and experiences. Houston discusses a deeply personal environmentalism that impacts her neighbors, her home, and her worldview. VERDICT Highly recommended as a memoir that combines nature, writing, and personal reflection.—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 September #3
Houston (A Little More About Me), a professor of English at UC Davis, brings compassion, a deep sense of observation, and a profound sense of place to essays centered around the 120-acre ranch in the Colorado Rockies that serves as home base in her busy life of travel and academic commitments. Houston's descriptions of ranch routine, which "heals me with its dailiness, its necessary rituals not one iota different than prayer," leads her organically toward graceful, "unironic odes to nature." Intimate but not sensationalized stories of Houston's upbringing in an unstable suburban household with an abusive father and a neglectful, alcoholic mother set off her gratitude for an adult life lived in the midst of a sometimes perilous but beautiful landscape. "Ranch Almanac" entries that alternate with the essays offer delightful appreciations of the ranch's other residents, including wolfhounds, lambs, chickens, and miniature donkeys; its human visitors, including her all-important "wood guy"; and the natural wonders visible there, notably including the Milky Way. Houston's vision finds a solid place among the chronicles of quiet appreciation of the American wilderness, without the misanthropy that often accompanies the genre; her passion for the land and its inhabitants is irresistibly contagious. (Feb.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.