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Cliff Walking: A Novel Paperback – September 14, 2011
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About the Author
Stephen Russell Payne is a fourth-generation Vermonter. A lifelong writer, he has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in publications including Vermont Life magazine, The Tufts Review, The Vermont Literary Review, Livin’ the Vermont Way magazine, and Route 7—Vermont Literary Journal. Payne studied pre-med and English at Tufts University, receiving his master’s in English before entering medical school at the University of Vermont. Since 1988 he has practiced general surgery in northern Vermont and taught at UVM as a clinical assistant professor of surgery. Over the years, he has been mentored by poets X. J. Kennedy, Galway Kinnell, and Denise Levertov, as well as by novelists Howard Frank Mosher, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and Chris Bohjalian. Much of the inspiration for Cliff Walking came from Payne's experiences helping victims of spousal and child abuse both as a physician and, previously, as a police officer. Payne lives on a northern Vermont farm with his family where their land is managed by a local organic farmer. Payne loves cutting his own firewood and spends much of his free time in the woods, where he often comes up with and develops story ideas. He and his family spend as much time as possible on Lake Champlain where they are avid Hobie Cat sailors and strong supporters of both the Lake Champlain Land Trust and the Vermont Land Trust.
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These are the words that Stephen Russell Payne chose to introduce his first novel, Cliff Walking, a powerful glimpse not only into kindness, beauty and truth but also cruelty, ugliness and deceit and how these affect the lives of three lost souls, each struggling with their own demons.
Payne deals with the worst life has to offer and also the best, filling each page with human emotions and how they can create or destroy relationships. Cliff Walking is beautifully crafted, touching on some of life's most challenging hurdles in uncommonly sensitive and emotional ways. This is a touching love story and a fast-paced mystery that lifts the social elephants out of the middle of the living room and exposes them so they can be understood.
Cliff Walking is a must-read novel because it is a poignant love story and a view of life both at its worst and at its best. Seldom have the powers of love and hope been more creatively expressed. Stephen Russell Payne has mastered the art of imagery and symbolism in the written word and raised it to an art form.