Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

An Illustrated Novel

By Robert Gipe

An Illustrated Novel

By Robert Gipe

Winner of the 2016 Weatherford Award in Fiction · Finalist, 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award · Winner of the 2021 Judy Gaines Young Book Award from Transylvania University (for all three Canard County books)

“A story that left my heart at once warmed and shattered, Trampoline rides the razor’s edge of raw beauty. This is Appalachia illuminated 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

“Fascinating, honest, and sometimes darkly comic…The consciousness of the mountain itself and the animals on it become the quiet heart of this loud and heartbreaking book.”


“Rare is the novel that delivers on all that is promised by fans or by the carefully curated blurbs featured on its cover. But, in my mind, Trampoline fulfills these promises, portraying Appalachia in a manner that falls prey neither to the demeaning stereotypes nor the romanticized clichés that are commonly associated with the region and its literature.”

Zackary Vernon, Cold Mountain Review

“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 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.

Robert Gipe lives and works in Harlan County, Kentucky. Pop is his third Ohio University Press novel. His first, Trampoline, won the 2016 Weatherford Award for Appalachian novel of the year. His second novel, Weedeater, was a Weatherford finalist. For the past thirty years he has worked in arts-based organizing and is the founding coproducer of the Higher Ground community performance series. He has contributed to numerous journals and anthologies, is a playwright, and is currently a script consultant on a forthcoming television show based on Beth Macy’s Dopesick. Author photo by Amelia Kirby.   More info →


Excerpt: Chapters 1 (“Driving Lesson”) and 2 (“Smother”)


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Retail price: $18.95, T.
Release date: November 2015
221 illus. · 336 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $35.00, T.
Release date: November 2015
221 illus. · 336 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: November 2015
221 illus. · 336 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Trampoline

“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

Trampoline 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 believe it takes a special genius to create a story that is hilarious and poignant 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

“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

“Robert Gipe has produced a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Here’s a narrator, Dawn, trapped absolutely in an Appalachian Gregor Samsa kind of way, surrounded by loved ones [who are] at times difficult to love. Dawn is precocious, bighearted, and fearless—a mountaintop-removal-fighting Mattie Ross. I couldn’t put this novel down.”

George Singleton, author of Between Wrecks

“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

“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”

“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/

“…quite possibly, one of the best books to ever come out of eastern Kentucky.”

Huntington Herald-Dispatch

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.”

Glenn Taylor, Electric Literature

“Gipe’s powerful sense of place will seep into teen readers’ lives. This is a killer debut of one teenager’s flight from destruction—strong stuff tempered with humor and love.”

School Library Journal

“Gipe [is] the best of populists: generous of spirit but not smarmy. There are some deeply flawed people in Dawn’s circle (she’s one of ’em), but they’re never all bad, never unchangeable but never unrealistically transformed. Gipe has a gift for staging tender reconciliations that you suspect won’t last through the afternoon.…To borrow from an old country song, “Trampoline” is ragged but right, and it builds to an effective blend of contrasting tones: world-weary yet hopeful, not too sentimental but — let’s quote Dawn once more — ‘soft, like the sound a Christmas tree makes when you throw it over the hill.’”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Canard County is a fictional county in Eastern Kentucky. It's rural, poor, and white. Coal mining, unemployment, drug addiction, and religious fervor dominate the landscape and the culture. It is, in other words, straight-up Appalachia. But as Trampoline embraces its Appalachian-ness, it also questions commonly held notions of what it means to be Appalachian. Its combination of prose narrative and quirky illustrations delivers a unique storytelling form, and the insightful, hilarious, and honest protagonist Dawn Jewell makes Trampoline unforgettable.”

Cartel Sickels, Southern Spaces

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