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Weedeater: An Illustrated Novel by Robert Gipe

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This novel fills the gap between today’s graphic novels and yesterday’s bland, words-only, efforts. It should appeal to both kinds of readers. Nobody has captured the raw realities of life deep in the Appalachian Mountains as faithfully as this author, known to friends simply as “Gipe.”  Whether it is dialogue, plot, or setting, Gipe has it just right – unflinching and not worried about romanticizing or stereotyping, just telling it like it really is. “Robert Gipe is the real deal: a genuine storyteller, a writer of wit and style, wisdom and heart. His characters are as alive as anybody I know, and his sentences jump off the page. I find myself reading them out loud to whoever’s handy and saying, ‘This is how it’s done.’”—Jennifer Haigh. “Weedeater is about how to go on when your heart is broken. With a style worthy of Ray Hicks, [he was not an author, but rather a storyteller from way back on Beech Mountain] author Robert Gipe makes his characters Dawn and Gene stare straight at you and tell what they have to tell. It is impossible to turn away from them. Their compelling tale of current Appalachia, told through true and vital language and with great compassion, is necessary reading for everyone.”—Carrie Mullins. “(A) complicated, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hilarious story…. Gipe manages to craft characters who look around and see drug addiction and extractive industries and dysfunction—and who are funny and fierce and reflective.”—Appalachian Journal. “The dialogue, with its distinct Appalachian dialect, charges Gipe’s illustrated story of a tight-knit community in coal country, in which people struggle to make ends meet, raise families, maintain friendships, and survive the opioid epidemic. The many cartoons add emotional complexity to the evocative language and terrific character development.”—Booklist. The author, Robert Gipe, grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, and, until recently ran the Appalachian Center at Southeast Community College in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Athens: Ohio University Press, a 2020 paperback reprint of a 1918 release. 256 pages, illustrated by the author. Trade paperback.