| A good man is hard to find, but a good cowboy--practically impossible. At least that's what the women in this accomplished, witty and engrossing debut short-story collection discover when they fall 10-gallon-hat-over-spurs for the kind of men who go in for roping cattle, not for romance. In "Selway," among the most gripping of these 12 tales, an intrepid young woman rafts through treacherous white water to keep up with her boyfriend, who is as untamed as the river that nearly kills them. Accompanying Boone ("a hunter of the everything-has-to-be-hard-and-painful-to-be-good variety") through the Alaskan wilderness during sheep hunting season, the unnamed narrator of "Dall" learns about male camaraderie, violence and herself. The cowboy enthusiast in the title story, listening to country music, observes, "The men in the songs were all either brutal or inexpressive. . . . The women were victims, every one." But the women featured here aren't victims: they are smart, funny and likable. A gifted storyteller and a fine writer, Houston brings insight and an original perspective to the heavily trafficked gender divide.