Elizabeth Crook

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Novelist Elizabeth Crook joins us this week. We’ll be talking with her about her latest, The Which Way Tree (Little, Brown and Company, February 6, 2018)

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Photo by Lizzie Lewis

Elizabeth Crook  has written five novels: The Raven’s Bride (Doubleday , 1991), Promised Lands (Doubleday, 1993), The Night Journal (Viking/Penguin, 2006) Monday, Monday (Sarah Crichton Books, 2014), and, now, The Which Way Tree (Little, Brown and Company, February 6, 2018). The Which Way Tree is optioned by Maverick Films LLC with Robert Duvall to star. 

Elizabeth has written for periodicals including Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters and the board of the Texas Book Festival. She is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and was selected the honored writer for 2006 Texas Writers’ Month. Her first novel, The Raven’s Bride, was the 2006 Texas Reads: One Book One Texas selection. The Night Journal was awarded the 2007 Spur award for Best Long Novel of the West and the 2007 Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Monday, Monday was awarded the 2015 Jesse H. Jones award for fiction.

Elizabeth Crook was born in Houston and lived in Nacogdoches, Texas, and then San Marcos with her parents and siblings until age seven when they moved to Washington D.C., where her father was director of VISTA for Lyndon Johnson. Two years later her father was appointed Ambassador to Australia and the family moved to Canberra. When they returned to Texas Elizabeth attended public schools in San Marcos, graduating from San Marcos High School. She attended Baylor University for two years and graduated from Rice University.

Elizabeth currently lives in Austin with her family.

Reviews –  The Which Way Tree (Little, Brown and Company, February 6, 2018)

“There’s a bit of Ahab in [Samantha]…and a lot of Mattie Ross, the cussedly obstinate heroine of Charles Portis’s True Grit. Her monomania motors this ripping adventure through the canyons and arroyos of the Texas-Mexico border….[and] leads the make-shift hunters through a gauntlet of disasters to the novel’s show-stopping finale.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“Not since True Grit have I read a novel as charming, exciting, suspenseful, and pitch-perfect as The Which Way Tree. Elizabeth Crook’s new book is winning from first page to last.” —Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

“Elizabeth Crook has invented a brilliant way of seeing the old Texas frontier: at very close range, through the eyes of a wise-beyond-his-years seventeen-year-old boy and the sister whose defiant quest he joins. The result is a small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and beautifully rendered.” —S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon

“When I began to read this book its unique voice appealed to me immediately. Elizabeth Crook has written a beautiful novel with wonderful characters.” —Robert Duvall

“Recalls Cormac McCarthy’s horseback meandering and keen eye for terrain and flora in The Crossing. There are also obvious echoes of True Grit, though Sam is even more fiercely single-minded than Mattie . . . An entertaining picture of harsh, stark life in the Old West.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a story of unremitting deprivation allayed by unexpected kindness, with a dangerous chase motivated by love and suffused with humanity.” Michele Leber, Booklist

“…..a must-read for fans of Joe Lansdale’s Western adventures and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers. Readers new to the Western genre will be hooked if they start with this compelling novel.” Emily Hamstra, Library Journal *starred*

 “The Which Way Tree is one part Track of the Cat, one part True Grit, and one part Tom Sawyer, a ruthless pedigree for a novel that displays human nature in its most beautiful form—a marvel.” —Craig Johnson, author of The Western Star

“This book is the stuff of legends, tales told for a hundred years around Texas campfires. Written in a form that is historically accurate and yet feels painstakingly intimate, The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I’ve read before.” —Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird

“Elizabeth Crook has created a book of marvels. Its comedy is steeped in the hardscrabble tragedies of a wilder old America. You will even catch an echo of Twain’s wit in the picaresque narration.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter

“It’s impossible not to think of icons of the frontier Texas subgenre that have mined the same vein. Among them: Charles Portis, True Grit; Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove; Fred Gipson, Old Yeller.” —Rod Davis, Texas Observer

About  The Which Way Tree (Little, Brown and Company, February 6, 2018)

The poignant odyssey of a tenacious young girl who braves the dangers of the Texas frontier to avenge her mother’s death

Early one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter’s life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred.

Narrated in Benjamin’s beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha’s unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother’s death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle.

In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl’s revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin’s storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love that carries a sister and brother through a perilous adventure with all the dimensions of a legend.—Little, Brown and Company

For more information, please see http://www.elizabethcrookbooks.com/. You can keep up with Elizabeth on Facebook.