Robert Gipe’s novels are unique. Every few pages are graced with one or two of his line drawings with captions that illustrate what is happening. His first, Trampoline, exploded onto the regional literary scene in 2015 and caused ripples throughout the country. It was widely viewed as an authentic window into contemporary Appalachian life. Dawn Jewell, its fifteen-year-old protagonist, moved anxiously between the home of her addict mother and her mamaw, an anti-strip-mining activist deep in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields. “No other work in this century shifted the literary landscape of Appalachia like the publication of Robert Gipe’s novel Trampoline. Gipe is redefining and reimagining the American social novel. His language is lightning on the page.”—Erik Reece. “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. It’s only about 60 miles from Kingsport, Tennessee, where Robert Gipe grew up to Harlan, Kentucky, where he now lives and teaches at a nearby community college. But the difference between a small industrial city and a coal town are considerable, especially now that coal is in decline. Gipe, as he is called more often than Robert, is a tall, slender man who stands above the crowd physically. His unique combination of whimsical art and entrancing writing has ushered in a new era in Appalachian literature.
Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015. 315 pages illustrated by the author. Hardback in dust jacket.