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Weedeater is a contemporary story of love and loss told by a pair of eastern Kentucky mountaineers. Gene is a lovelorn lawnman who bears witness to the misadventures of a family entangled in drugs, artmaking, and politics, a family beset by environmental and self-destruction. And a young mother, Dawn Jewell, is at the center of the family. She spends the pages of Weedeater searching—for lost family members, lost youth, lost community, and lost heart. Weedeater is a story about how we put our lives back together when we lose the things we thought we couldn’t bear losing, how we find new purpose in what we thought were scraps and trash caught in the weeds.
Weedeater picks up six years after the end of Robert Gipe’s first novel, Trampoline, and continues the story of the people of Canard County, Kentucky. In Weedeater, the reader finds Canard County living through the last hurrah of the coal industry and the most turbulent and deadly phase of the community’s battle with opioid abuse. The events it chronicles are frantic, but its voice is by turns taciturn and angry, filled with humor and stoic grace.
Robert Gipe lives in Harlan, Kentucky, and grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. His fiction has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Still, Motif, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel.
“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, author of Heat and Light
“Weedeater had me by the heart and the gut. It is big, bad, throaty, loving storytelling of giant proportions and devastating quickness. It’s an incredible book, and it’s made me a Robert Gipe fan for life. Read this.”—Kayla Rae Whitaker, author of The Animators
“Dawn Jewell is still in the soup and not a one of us will ever outrun Canard County. For that I am grateful. Listen to this book. It sings the truth of a place where everything bends, where the stories of the people explode like giant dandelions. This book is alive. Nobody writes like Robert Gipe.”—Glenn Taylor, author of A Hanging at Cinder Bottom
“Dawn Jewell is back and so is Robert Gipe. Weedeater is a pitch-perfect look at our beloved Appalachia, at once an amalgam of masterful writing and characters that are funny and smart and fully human. Such a powerful book.”—Cryst
“No other work in this century shifted the literary landscape of Appalachia like the publication of Robert Gipe’s novel Trampoline. Now comes its sequel—just as searing, relentless, and gripping. With his cast of misfits, Gipe is redefining and reimagining the American social novel. His language is lightning on the page.”—Erik Reece, author of Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness