A New Type of Picture Book

Contents May Have Shifted: A NovelPam Houston is one of my all time favorite writers. Waltzing the Cat is my favorite of her books so far, but I am so very very excited for her newest book, Contents May Have Shifted (isn’t that a great title?!) I’ve heard her read from this several times as she’s worked on it and everything has been fantastic. Half of it made me tear up. I’ve been waiting for this to be released since I heard her read the short story that inspired the whole thing and loved it. Less than 2 months to go!

Pam is a great reader and if you’ve never heard her in person, you should! She’ll be on tour starting in February, and I plan to be at her kick-off reading on Feb 6th with my copy of Contents May Have Shifted ready to be signed. It’ll be at Book Passage, an excellent bookstore in Corte Madera where I will also be making an appearance in April.

But if you’re like me and wish you could read the book right now, here is the next best thing: a collection of photos from Pam’s travels and quotes from the novel with each one.

“Spotting whales at sea is not so different than spotting deer in the woods. For hours you see nothing, and then you see one, and suddenly you realize you are surrounded.”

“I was safely back at the ocean by then and Fenton the dog was chasing the endangered plovers, making smarter faster plovers, I always reasoned, for the long haul…”

From WW Norton: “This Flickr set collects photographs from the personal travels of the author Pam Houston and, by connecting them to passages from her upcoming novel, shows how a writers life can inform and inspire their fictional work.”

It’s really neat and totally worth clicking through for photos like this:

and this:

and these:


And for the beauty of her language and her storytelling:

“He held Rick’s picture in one hand, and Fenton the dog’s in the other. ‘Look at the hair! Look at the eyebrows! Pam,’ he said, ‘you’ve fallen in love with your dog!’”

“I’ll admit that I don’t know who I am praying to. Something somewhere between ocean and God.”

“From the top of the hill, looking down and seeing the bay through the trunks of the giant ponderosa, the dissolution of figure and ground, distance shrinking, surface gleam and pattern, all of it in motion, like looking under a microscope at a paper-thin slice of God’s brain.”

My favorite quote from this collection, though, is this:

“How did I ever think I’d get to freedom, without my arms swung open wide?”

Love it. Did I mention I’m excited for this book?

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