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Contrary Creek: a novel Paperback – May 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Wheatmark (May 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604943831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604943832
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,339,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Walker (1942- ) grew up on Arizona ranches in the Bradshaw Mountains north of Wickenburg and the Mogollon Rim country near Young.

He and his sister, Mary Walker Baron, have been writing together since childhood, but "Contrary Creek" is their first published novel. Although it draws on their experience as ranch kids growing up in small towns, the book is entirely fictional.

Tom attended college at Arizona State University and the University of Denver, earning a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in mass communication. For nearly thirty years, he worked as a newspaper journalist, the last fifteen as a copy editor and feature writer at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. After retiring from newspaper work in 2000, he worked for nonprofits, including the Tucson Community Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services.

In December 2009, Tom retired again and now volunteers for ICS. And he continues to write, with several fiction projects planned or underway.

He and his wife, Linda, have been married 45 years. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

This is an excellent book about a remote small town and the interaction of people in such a town.
Paul Boettcher
This story is well-written and engaging, but in my opinion strays too far from its original genre, and lacks critical development of the characters.
Monika J. Bond
Finally, I came to my senses and thought...this is the way of living; it needed that roller coaster ride.
Sally

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vicki L. Thompson on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
In a narrative voice that is pitch-perfect, Tom and Mary Walker bring us the story of sixteen-year-old Danny Cloud, a small-town boy with big dreams. Yes, Danny's as angst-ridden and horny as most boys his age, but he faces his trials with pluck and an endearing sense of humor. Despite his fierce loyalty to his family, he has no desire to follow in his father's footsteps and take over the Rafter C, a ranch located in a remote canyon in the mountains of Arizona. His younger sister BJ, a feisty thirteen-year-old and champion barrel racer, vies for the job but has to buck her father's traditional mindset.

The Walkers pack this story with action and intrigue as the school year begins with a motley collection of teachers and a bigoted principal. But at bottom the book is about love. Danny's devoted to his family, but it's his newfound love for his childhood friend Mellie that drives the plot and leads to its inevitable and wrenching climax. The characters stayed with me long after I closed the book. I suspect I won't forget them anytime soon. Bravo, Tom and Mary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lee M. Schnebly on July 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
Most of us like fiction that sounds like truth, and Contrary Creek is exactly that. Almost immediately I came to know each fascinating character, good or bad, and they seemed so real I found myself believing they must truly have existed.
The authors had many threads of action running at the same time, and as each character resurfaced I felt a warm gladness that I was about to find out more.

The language they used was so appropriate to who they were, whether they were stuffy, moralistic faculty members or excited youngsters enjoying new adventures. There are some unusual personalities playing important roles, one being a self proclaimed witch influencing the tender beliefs of her naive students.

Watching the young people discover the joys and pains of loving was compelling, and I hurt with them or savored their successes.

The apparently simple life of ranching proved to be anything but. It was fraught with difficult negotiating with insensitive but powerful individuals who reveled in inflicting laws seemingly designed to prevent families from making an honest living. Those with authority used it against "the good guys," and the reader felt the frustrations and helplessness that sometimes led to giving up.

Scattered throughout were situations demonstrating the dangers of judgementalness, and vividly clear consequences of the harm that can result.

When I finished I felt incredibly sad it was over. I'd come to know the people so well that I missed them tremendously. Contrary Creek may be fiction, but not in this reader's mind!

Lee Schnebly
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bryn Bailer on June 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Cattle ranching is a tough way to make a living, and the hard-scrabble outskirts of tiny Faraway, Arizona is a tough place to come of age. But 16-year-old Danny Cloud is doing just that, and learning about life, love, big dreams, dashed hopes and small-town intolerance all along the way.

And when the school library is destroyed, an increasingly bizarre roster of teachers are summarily dispatched by the comically overwhelmed school board, and bodies start piling up around town ... things really get interesting.

Tom and Mary Walker's characters are finely drawn and memorable - and include a stunningly beautiful science teacher (a lesbian Wiccan who may be dabbling in the black arts and seducing the preacher's not-so-saintly wife on the side); a misunderstood English teacher named after not one, but three classic poets; and an impassionated teen champion barrel racer who yearns to run the family cattle ranch, even as that way of life crumbles before her eyes.

Along the way, Danny rediscovers the sweet and simple Mellie, who is maturing into a young woman in front of his wondering (and wandering) eyes. He aches to turn her from a gal pal into his full-on girlfriend - but hip-swinging Wanda, the teenage town tramp, has other ideas.

Delving into this mystery novel is - not unlike wading into the swollen, murky waters of Contrary Creek, near Danny's beloved Rafter C Ranch - an unforgettable adventure, and one fraught with both delight ... and danger.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ethel Lee-Miller on December 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you have an interest in real cowboys, quirky characters, horses, and kids growing up on a ranch, this is the book for you. Having my own childhood take place in New York, I found Contrary Creek a fascinating place, a setting in the Southwest that provides ample opportunities for BJ and Danny Cloud, the sister and brother characters, to come of age. Authors Tom and Mary Walker have crafted a novel that drops us gently, with some bumps along the way, into the Cloud family, and especially the perspective of the teenage Danny as he makes his way into his teenage years, first love, and manhood. The local characters and air of mystery around one of the newer teachers add an element of drama to the book. But just riding and being with BJ and Danny was a fascinating enough escape for me. Ethel Lee-Miller, author, Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Negri on August 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Contrary Creek is a vivid coming of age story set in the rough mountain terrain of central Arizona. It's a little slow getting started but about half way through it picks up steam and drags you through. The novel follows the teenaged children of a ranching family as they negotiate their way through the crucible of lust and ignorance as it plays out in the nearest town, appropriately called Faraway. Most of the residents are faraway in more ways than one. The authors write convincingly of horses, tack, small minds and the long distances to basic facilities that can make the difference between life and death. This is not a western in the standard sense but more of a Peyton Place where everybody is hiding something under their batwing chaps.
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