“How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us. But we have to ask with an open heart, with no idea what the answer will be.”
I first heard Pam Houston speak about her ranch on an episode of the podcast Dear Sugars, and I’ve been waiting for this book ever since. In her early thirties, Pam Houston bought a ranch in Colorado. Deep Creek offers a beautiful meditation on what the ranch has come to mean since: healing from a traumatic family life, grieving her mother and their complicated relationship, a complex symbol of independence and vulnerability, a coming into her own. Also a larger exploration of the meaning of human-animal relationships, the power of finding one’s place in the world, and the larger question of how to appreciate and care for this world in our time of environmental destruction.
Part memoir, part environmental call to action, part love letter to one small part of the world, Deep Creek is a deep reflection on place, how it can heal us, and what we owe the natural world in return.
“I can’t decide if Mineral County, Colorado, is a piece of heaven or if it’s actually heaven. Either way, it is a wondrous Rocky Mountain paradise — a paradise beset by bitter cold, fires, and various degrees of hardship, but always exquisite beauty. Pam Houston has 120 acres of it, and readers get a glimpse of life and death on the ranch in this marvelous combination of memoir and nature writing. Both deeply personal and wide-reaching, Deep Creek is about the human capacity to feel grief and joy all at once for the ground beneath one’s feet and the planet as a whole.”
— Stan Hynds, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
Winner of the 2020 Reading the West Advocacy Award
Winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction
"This is a book for all of us, right now." —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, beloved writer Pam Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Elk calves and bluebirds mark the changing seasons, winter temperatures drop to 35 below, and lightning sparks a 110,000-acre wildfire, threatening her century-old barn and all its inhabitants. Through her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, she explores what ties her to the earth, the ranch most of all. Alongside her devoted Irish wolfhounds and a spirited troupe of horses, donkeys, and Icelandic sheep, the ranch becomes Houston’s sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of horrific parental abuse and neglect.
In essays as lucid and invigorating as mountain air, Deep Creek delivers Houston’s most profound meditations yet on how “to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief… to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive.”
About the Author
Pam Houston is the prize-winning author of Contents May Have Shifted, among other books. She is professor of English at the University of California–Davis and lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
Pam Houston is in possession of a deep, heart- achingly beautiful love for her own personal piece of earth. And as equally deep is her ability for hope. — Sara Cutaia
Insightful and evocative — Nathan Devel
Pam Houston is the rodeo queen of American letters. In Deep Creek, her voice has never been more fully realized, and her message never more important.
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not by Accident
Good writing can make you envious, no matter how foreign the terrain. Other times, you read a good memoir and find yourself wanting to track down the author and become friends. A third kind of book is so insightful and evocative, you shelve it beside other favorite and instructive titles. Deep Creek might just do all three.
— Nathan Deuel
Pam Houston's Deep Creek is (of course) fantastic.
— Heather Hansman
There are few books I have read that remind me how knowing a place, studying a place—the soil and weather and beasts and flora and trails and light at a given time of year, and scent at another, and sounds at another—is one of the ways we heal, one of the ways we de-alienate, one of the ways we return to what we are—the earth; our home. Pam Houston’s Deep Creek is a miracle this way. It reminds us how to get home.
— Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights
Deep Creek is a love letter to earth, animals, and the best of humanity. Pam Houston has taken our heartache and woven it back into hope. Her stories of love, loss, and a life lived in relationship to land give us good reasons not to give up on ourselves or each other. This is the book we need right now to remind us how to endure—passionately. An unstoppable heart song.
— Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Misfit’s Manifesto
In the face of the world’s turmoil, this book is utter clarity. In the face of the world’s harshness, this book is a soft place to land.… If you find yourself careening toward despair, pick up Deep Creek and read even just one page. The words there will lift you back to hope—not the sentimental kind, but the kind that can and does change the world for the better. What gratitude we owe to Pam Houston for writing it.
— B. K. Loren, author of Animal, Mineral, Radical
Full of wisdom, wit, and loving attention, Pam Houston’s survey of her life and land should be required reading for anyone who loves this planet we call home. — Camille T. Dungy, author of Guidebook to Relative Strangers
Houston has a great range of vision, and she’s fun to read. She gets the land right.… In this perfectly American memoir, a restless heart finds its place. — Craig Childs, author of Atlas of a Lost World
Pam Houston is in possession of a deep, heart-achingly beautiful love for her own personal piece of earth. And as equally deep is her ability for hope. In a time where the world is either drowning, or burning, or being drilled-into, Houston’s outlook promises a better tomorrow—even if that means we’re no longer here. — Sara Cutaia
If Cowboys Are My Weakness was Pam Houston’s call to millions of women—blasting us with self-recognition of how we give away our own power—then her new book is the response to that call.