Waltzing the Cat

Pam Houston, Author W. W. Norton & Company $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-02749-5
The winningly forthright narrator of Houston's second collection of interlinked stories (after Cowboys Are My Weakness) is peripatetic landscape photographer Lucy O'Rourke, 33, who persists in falling in love with a succession of men who are wrong for her and in risking grievous bodily harm in adventure sports. Lucy is tossed into raging rapids on the Colorado River in Utah, faces down a grand cayman that almost capsizes her canoe in Ecuador, nearly drowns twice in the waters off the Bahamas in hurricane season and repeatedly tests her courage in other exotic locations. Each change of scene is a search for a home and a man with whom to establish it; each time, she is disappointed anew by neurotic lovers who are afraid of commitment. The unconscious motivation of all her adventures is the little girl she once was, caught between an alcoholic mother and a mean, bullying father. The 13 vignettes from her life, repetitive as they seem initially, move Lucy along a path on which she becomes open to mystical visions: the first is a visitation from Carlos Castaneda, which leads her to settle down at the dilapidated ranch her grandmother has bequeathed to her in the Colorado Rockies. Lucy's troubles are not over at the end of this suspenseful and plaintively appealing book, and her future is not entirely clear, yet the reader finally feels that she has learned valuable lessons that may take her to safe harbor. Houston describes Lucy's sporting adventures with cinematic detail, conveying both her technical prowess and the exhilaration of physical daring. On the other hand, readers may become exasperated at the number of selfish, foolish, posturing men who wander into Lucy's path. Her slow progress toward insight and peace of mind is wrapped up in a mystical epilogue that is rather contrived, but she is such an engaging heroine that one is left wanting to read further chapters in her life. Author tour. Editor, Carol Houk Smith. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-86049-789-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57511-054-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-671-02637-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-19130-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-27451-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-34347-2
Open Ebook - 978-0-393-07504-5
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