Robert Gipe Pens an Award-Winning Illustrated Novel About Appalachia

Posted on:

< < Back to

Robert Gipe of Harlan, Kentucky has written a gripping illustrated novel about life in Appalachia and in a mythical small town in the coalfields called Trampoline. It is published by the Ohio University Press.

Trampoline is narrated by a young woman whose mother is caught up in opiate addiction and whose grandmother is an environmental activist. Her father was killed in a suspicious mining accident. The novel portrays the peaks and valleys of living in a remote small Appalachian town with a struggling economy and an exploding drug problem.

The novel is written for the ear, according to Gipe. He says writing it was sometimes like just writing down the dialogue from various characters he heard inside his head. The book is punctuated by his drawings and illustrations that are integrated into the text.

This is Gipe’s first novel, although he has previously written fiction for Appalachian Heritage, Still, and Motif. He has worked on the book since first attending the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop in 2006. A sequel now is being developed.

Gipe was born in North Carolina but grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. He received his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His graduate degree is from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Gipe has had wide ranging experiences from working as a pickle packer and forklift driver to organizing Appalachian oral histories, writing a musical play, and being director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky. He also is a faculty coordinator of the Crawdad Student Art Series. Trampoline is available in hardcover, paperback and electronically.

An illustration from Robert Gipe's "Trampoline," published by the Ohio University Press. (
An illustration from Robert Gipe’s “Trampoline,” published by the Ohio University Press. (