Synopses & Reviews
“Trampoline is that rare kind of book, a first novel that feels like a fourth or fifth.… It is a roaring tale that knows when to tamp its own fire—which is another way of saying that it is funny as hell but will hurt you too.” — Electric Literature
Dawn Jewell is fifteen. She is restless, curious, and wry. She listens to Black Flag, speaks her mind, and joins her grandmother’s fight against mountaintop removal mining almost in spite of herself. “I write by ear,” says Robert Gipe, and Dawn’s voice is the essence of his debut novel, Trampoline. Jagged and honest, Trampoline is a portrait of a place struggling with the economic and social forces that threaten and define it. Inspired by oral tradition and punctuated by Gipe’s raw and whimsical drawings, it is above all about its heroine, Dawn, as she decides whether to save a mountain or save herself; be ruled by love or ruled by anger; remain in the land of her birth or run for her life.
“A story that left my heart at once warmed and shattered, Trampoline
rides the razor’s edge of raw beauty. This is Appalachia shone with a light uniquely its own. I dare say Robert Gipe has invented his own genre.”
—David Joy, author of Where All Light Tends to Go
“Robert Gipe has the most original voice to emerge on the literary landscape since Lewis Nordan. Dawn Jewell is a delicious heroine, whether she’s shouldering her way through a community conflict or a family scrimmage. Geographically anchored, yet universally relevant, Trampoline
is funny, serious, dark, radiant, and amazingly honest, filled with rich characters and a culture wracked with contradiction and heartbreak, but also strength and resilience. An excellent debut from a gifted and insightful writer.”
—Darnell Arnoult, author of Sufficient Grace
“I believe it takes a special genius to create a story that is hilarious and
eloquent all at the same time, and Robert Gipe has done just that in his amazing debut Trampoline.
Gipe’s is a voice like no other and I guarantee you’ll fall in love just like I did.”
—Pam Duncan, author of The Big Beautiful and Moon Women
is a moving account of working-class Kentucky mountain people who live in an environment dominated by mountaintop removal coal mining. Trampoline is also the most innovative American fiction to appear in years. The story, the characters and the writing style are startlingly new, as in: original. Trampoline
adds a fresh consciousness to the enduring conversation about the Appalachian region. Pathos and humor are present in about equal measure.”
—Gurney Norman, author of Divine Right's Trip and Kinfolks
“I fear this book. I’m in love with this book. I’m laughing out loud at this book. I am knocked to my knees in grief by this book. One of the most powerful works of contemporary fiction I’ve read in years. I’ll never forget Dawn Jewell. I’ll never escape Canard County.”
—Ann Pancake, author of Strange as this Weather Has Been and Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley
“Dawn Jewell is one of the most memorable and endearing narrators I have ever read. She’s like a combination of Scout Finch, Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, and True Grit’
s Mattie Ross, but even more she is completely her own person, the creation of Robert Gipe, an author who has given us a novel that provides everything we need in great fiction: a sense of place that drips with kudzu and coal dust; complex characters who rise up off the page as living, breathing people we will not soon forget; and a rollicking story that is by turns hilarious, profound, deeply moving, and always lyrically beautiful. I think Trampoline
is one of the most important novels to come out of Appalachia in a long while and announces an important new voice in our literature. I loved every single bit of this book.”
— Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt and Eli the Good
“Billboards. That’s what we need. ‘Dawn Jewell is queen’ on one. ‘Jump on this Trampoline’ on another. All of them shouting how good this book is. Read it, everyone, read it.”
—Jim Minick, author of The Blueberry Years
“In 1980… John Kennedy Toole’s classic, A Confederacy of Dunces, was published by the Louisiana State University Press. The following year it won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. That may have been the last time a university press introduced a major American voice—the last time, that is, until now…. Trampoline is a new American masterpiece.”
—Knoxville News Sentinel
“There are the books you like, and the books you love, and then there are the ones you want to hold to your heart for a minute after you turn the last page. Robert Gipe’s illustrated novel Trampoline is one of those—not just well written, which it is; and not just visually appealing, which the wonderfully deadpan black-and-white drawings make sure of; but there is something deeply lovable about it, an undertow of affection you couldn’t fight if you wanted to. …Gipe deftly avoids every single cliché that could trip such a story up, which includes having a pitch-perfect ear for dialect and making it into something marvelous.” —Lisa Peet, Library Journal’s “What We’re Reading”
is that rare kind of book, a first novel that feels like a fourth or fifth.…It is a roaring tale that knows when to tamp its own fire–which is another way of saying that it is funny as hell but will hurt you too.”
Winner of the 2015 Weatherford Award in Fiction
Dawn Jewell is fifteen. She is restless, curious, and wry. She listens to Black Flag, speaks her mind, and joins her grandmother's fight against mountaintop removal mining almost in spite of herself. "I write by ear," says Robert Gipe, and Dawn's voice is the essence of his debut novel, Trampoline. She lives in eastern Kentucky with her addict mother and her Mamaw, whose stance against the coal companies has earned her the community's ire. Jagged and honest, Trampoline is a powerful portrait of a place struggling with the economic and social forces that threaten and define it. Inspired by oral tradition and punctuated by Gipe's raw and whimsical drawings, it is above all about its heroine, Dawn, as she decides whether to save a mountain or save herself; be ruled by love or ruled by anger; remain in the land of her birth or run for her life.
When Dawn Jewell-fifteen, restless, curious, and wry-joins her grandmother's fight against mountaintop removal mining in spite of herself, she has to decide whether to save a mountain or save herself; be ruled by love or by anger; remain in the land of her birth or run for her life.
Trampoline, a debut novel by Robert Gipe, is set in the coalfields of Kentucky. Its narrator is Dawn Jewell, a teenager who recounts the turbulent time when her grandmother Cora led her into a fight to stop a mountaintop removal coal mine. Dawns father, Delbert, is dead, killed in the mines, leaving her mother, Tricia, a grieving drunk. Trampoline follows Dawn as she decides whether to save a mountain or save herself; be ruled by love or ruled by anger; remain in the land of her birth or run for her life.
Trampoline includes more than two hundred drawings that punctuate the narrative in a unique, dramatic, and moving way and amplify Dawns telling of her story.
About the Author
Robert Gipe is the director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. His fiction has appeared in the journals Appalachian Heritage and Still.