Margot Mifflin
January 31, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Cowboys Are My Weakness

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Pam Houston
publisher
W.W. Norton
genre
Romance, Fiction

We gave it a B-

Luckily, Cowboys Are My Weakness, the first collection of stories isn’t as corny as its title. Written in a direct, practiced style, these are tales of failed romance told by rugged Western women whose pasts are only as long as their relationships with unreachable Marlboro men. In each, the author conscientiously reports on the great sex these doomed couples enjoy, as if to justify her protagonists’ chronically bad taste in partners. But with the exception of ”How to Talk to a Hunter” and ”Highwater,” these amorous battles have limited dynamism, since Houston’s women are so much smarter and deeper than their leathery lovers. When she explores the homoerotic friendship between two high-voltage females (”In My Next Life”), sparks begin to fly. Houston’s weakness, apart from cowboys, is her tendency toward pop psychologizing, which diminishes the intelligence of her sturdy prose. B-

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