Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 188: Pam Houston, Contents May Have Shifted

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This week, as part of our continuing “Summer of Selfies” theme, we’re discussing Pam Houston’s latest book, a novel that draws heavily from the author’s own life, and whose narrator is even named Pam. This isn’t the first time that Houston has played with the line between fact and fiction, a line she finds to be blurry, at best.

We talk about aspects of the book we find interesting, and some that we find less interesting. Which seems to be one of the challenges of writing autobiographical work: How do you know which of your experiences are interesting only to you, and which will be interesting to an audience of strangers? It also speaks to the fact that first-person, autobiographical works tend to be pretty quirky, and may speak to some people and not to others. Which isn’t a weakness of the form, and in fact might in some ways be a strength.

In the second of the show, we talk about James Frey, who was Houston’s writing student, and when it’s ok, in a work of nonfiction, to make something up.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment.

Stream Episode 188:

Download Episode 188 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!

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Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

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