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Robert Gipe. Ohio Univ, $28.95 (340p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2439-1
A headlong tumble into a proud and problem-plagued Appalachia, this addictive illustrated novel by Gipe (third in a series after Weedeater) is a delightful gabfest. Set in 2016 in eastern Kentucky’s imaginary Canard County (known, one character laments, for “mine strikes and poverty programs and everybody being hooked on pills”), it follows an ambitious but oft-derailed family’s misadventures. Middle-aged Dawn is drowning in agoraphobic Internet-frazzled depression, her foodie teenage daughter Nicolette deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault while planning to start an artisanal soda company, and uncle Hubert is trying to make money off a local movie shoot. Each narrates in voices laced with hard-bitten realism (Hubert on the election: “Them two was fighting over a pie we’d forgot the taste of”) and delightful colloquialisms (Hubert again, on an attractive young woman: “She walked through the smoke like she was the fire”), channeling the feral lyricism of Barry Hannah as Gipe cruises through the episodic and ragtag plot. The scribbled-looking spot illustrations feature characters as reedy figures with flyaway hair and no-nonsense expressions, bringing them down to earth with delicious irony. Comedy and tragedy make way for unexpected uplift in this richly detailed story of people determined not to be forgotten. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/25/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-8214-4731-4
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