Award Winning Author Visits
By MARIE L. MONYAK
February 13, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan Public Library recently hosted
author Pam Houston who gave a short presentation and a reading
from her first and most recent novel Sighthound which
was published in January of 2005.
This well traveled 44 year old writer divides her time between
her ranch in Creede, Colorado, which is situated 9000 feet above
sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River and the
University of California in Davis, where she serves as the Director
of Creative Writing.
Pam Houston at the
Ketchikan Public Library last Thursday.
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
Houston jumps from one writing
genre to another with ease. In Cowboys Are My Weakness published
in 1992, Houston authored a collection of linked short stories
which received the 1993 Western States Book Award. In 1996 she
wrote the text for a book of photographs titled Men Before
In 1999 Houston authored her second collection of linked short
stories in Waltzing The Cat for which she received the
Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction. Soon after, Houston published
a collection of autobiographical essays in A Little More About
Not a conventional author, Houston jumps from short stories and
poetry to non-fiction, magazine articles and stage plays. In
2001 she completed the play Tracking the Pleiades which
was produced by the Creede Repertory Theatre.
Houston read excerpts from her most recent novel Sighthound,
published in January 2005, at the Public Library this past Thursday.
Sighthound is about an Irish Wolfhound named Dante and the
story is told in 12 first person narrative voices. "Nine
of those are human, two are canine and one is feline," Houston
informed those in attendance, "that was the challenge, the
fun and the headache of writing this book."
Definitely more than a, "Girl meets dog, girl loves dog,
girl loses dog, story," as Houston said, Sighthound
has a reoccurring theme about hope that becomes more obvious
with each passing chapter.
Even though Houston read only short excerpts from the book, it
became obvious that Dante, the Irish Wolfhound, was everyone's
hero. There were tears and much sniffling in the audience as
Houston explained how Dante, on his fourth birthday was diagnosed
with bone cancer in his leg, survived several grueling experimental
treatments that failed, had his leg amputated and managed to
live another three years against all odds as a three legged,
barbed-wire jumping dog that never lost his dignity.
Having read just enough to intrigue the audience and leave them
wanting more, Houston's time was up. However, Parnassus Books
was on hand with numerous copies of the book for sale since the
audience was impatient to read more. Houston graciously remained
to sign the books and answer questions from the public.
Much credit should be given to Charlotte Glover for bringing
authors like Houston to Ketchikan. Glover has worked at the library
for about 15 years and is not only the Children's Librarian but
also the Library Program Director and responsible for bringing
guest speakers to Ketchikan which she does from four to six times
Glover went above and beyond the call of duty by housing Houston
in her own home to keep from spending the library's budget. To
further lower expenses, Glover made arrangements to split the
cost of airfare with the Juneau Public Library where Houston
was also appearing.
One little known fact about our Ketchikan Public Library is that
it's the longest continuously operating library in the entire
state of Alaska and 80 percent of our population are active library
Since services are free and the staff are extremely knowledgeable
and helpful, it's no surprise that the community avails themselves
to all the library has to offer. There are many programs offered
by the library that can also be accessed on their website.
During Ketchikan's long, dark and wet winter, the library can
open doors to new horizons and take you far, far away without
ever leaving Ketchikan but, just as Thursday night's audience
did, you would have to go there and find out for yourself.
On the Web:
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Ketchikan Public Library
Contact Marie at email@example.com
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