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Local and national authors team up for reading event

Pam Houston
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When Art and Allison Daily of Aspen set out to write a book telling their respective stories of triumph over life tragedy, Allison sent a chance e-mail to one of her favorite authors, Pam Houston, for some insight.

Houston, author of the acclaimed novel “Sight Hound” and the best-selling book of short stories “Cowboys are My Weakness,” says she gets dozens of e-mails a week from people she doesn’t know, and can’t always respond to them.

But something about Allison Daily’s message spoke to her and made her write back.



“Houston was drawn to the transcendent events Allison had shared. She also had a strong, gut feeling that she was supposed to be involved in some way,” according to a news release about a Thursday fundraising event for the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities that will bring the three together.

Houston joins the Dailys for a talk about the collaborative process that led to the Dailys’ book, “Out of the Canyon – A True Story of Loss and Love,” beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Church at Carbondale Gathering Center.



The Dailys will read from “Out of the Canyon,” while Houston will read from a work in progress, a novel about place and friendship.

The Dailys met Houston about five years ago when they began writing their book, which chronicles the grieving and blessings that grew out of a Feb. 26, 1995, tragedy.

That afternoon, Art was driving his family back from an ice hockey tournament in Vail, when a rock fall in Glenwood Canyon took the lives of his wife, Kathy, and their two boys, Tanner and Shea.

Reading of the tragedy, Allison wrote him an anonymous letter sharing the loss of her own brother to suicide as a way of helping with his healing.

She included a music tape she had made with songs on it that she thought would help him. It turned out most of the songs on the tape had been Kathy’s favorite songs. Art and Allison soon met and were later married, and now have a new family.

“Pam came to meet us in Aspen at a sushi place, and we had an instant connection,” Allison Daily recalled. “From that point on, she started helping us discover what was truly important, what needed to be said.

“She really taught me how to write,” Daily adds. “When we were done with the draft, she helped us decide how to arrange the order of the book. This was a true collaboration.”

Houston’s sentiments about that experience are contained in her preface to “Out of the Canyon.”

Her own book, “Sight Hound,” was a “One Book, One Town” read sponsored by the Gordon Cooper Library a few years ago, during which Houston paid a visit to Carbondale.

Her latest work in progress, from which she will read on Thursday, is “an ode to motion, flight and the strange peripatetic way we live our lives,” she explains.

“There are 132 very short chapters, each named by the place they occur: Juneau, Alaska; Marfa, Texas; Ventiene, Laos; Lhasa, Tibet; and 12 more chapters that take place no place, at 39,000 feet in the air.”

Houston is also teaching a fiction writing workshop at Aspen High School this week. She teaches writer’s workshops throughout the year and heads the master’s fiction program at the University of California at Davis.

Proceeds from Thursday’s reading will be donated to the new CCAH Center for the Arts at the Third Street Center in Carbondale, which is expected to open this summer.

Amy Kimberly and Ro Mead of CCAH also have invited Houston to teach an adult writing workshop at the Third Street Center this summer. For more information, visit http://www.carbondalearts.com.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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