Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

An Illustrated Novel

By Robert Gipe

Winner of the 2021 Judy Gaines Young Book Award from Transylvania University (for all three Canard County books)

“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.… Comedy and tragedy make way for unexpected uplift in this richly detailed story of people determined not to be forgotten.”

Publishers Weekly

“Robert Gipe has blown the lid off his already zany writing style with Pop, the conclusion to his Canard County Kentucky trilogy. It’s a celebration of diverse Appalachia, told from three perspectives…. As with the rest of the trilogy, the illustrations are hilarious, and pure genius. As a defense of the people and the region, I want to stand up and applaud Pop for its creativity and take up the phrase ‘nothing about us without us’ directed at the wider culture, and Hollywood in particular, as a mantra.”

Jill Minor, Washington County (VA) Public Library

“Nobody has captured contemporary Eastern Kentucky life as authentically as Robert Gipe. And nobody in Appalachian fiction has come up with a literary innovation as refreshing and enticing as his illustrated novels that feature his own rough caricatures to illustrate his well-chosen words.”

Appalachian Mountain Books, April 4, 2021

Pop is sad, stupid funny, and savagely honest. Gipe’s prose rushes by in a whirl of strangeness, of characters and dialogue, jokes and heartbreaks, ghosts and wildfires, sinkholes and giants telling Jack Tales, plus a couple of movie stars. It leaves the reader with a feeling that it’s time to ‘set out’—whether that means taking on a corporate polluter, starting a new artisanal pop business, or just telling your own story in your own words to someone who will listen.”

Graham Marema, Daily Yonder

A coming-of-age story of hope, betrayal, and familial legacy set in rural Appalachia.

Set in the run-up and aftermath of the 2016 election, Pop brings the Canard County trilogy to a close as Dawn, the young narrator of Gipe’s first novel, Trampoline, is now the mother of the seventeen-year-old Nicolette. Whereas Dawn has become increasingly agoraphobic as the internet persuades her the world is descending into chaos, Nicolette narrates an Appalachia where young people start businesses rooted in local food culture and work to build community. But Nicolette’s precocious rise in the regional culinary scene is interrupted when her policeman cousin violently assaults her, setting in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy the family—and Canard County in the process.

In the tradition of Gipe’s first two novels, Pop’s Appalachia is full of clear-eyed, caring, creative, and complicated people struggling to hang on to what is best about their world and reject what is not. Their adventures reflect an Appalachia that is overrun by outside commentators looking for stories to tell about the region—sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but almost always oversimplified.

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 →


A reading from Pop, by author/illustrator Robert Gipe

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Retail price: $28.95, T.
Release date: February 2021
164 illus. · 346 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: USA, and Canada

Release date: February 2021
164 illus. · 346 pages
Rights: USA, and Canada

Additional Praise for Pop

“Robert Gipe is Appalachia’s Willy Wonka. Pop is your golden ticket. It will crack your smile, break your heart, and rouse your soul all in the space of a page.”

Wesley Browne, author of Hillbilly Hustle

“Haints and heroes dominate Robert Gipe’s Pop, the last installment of a trilogy that takes everything you thought you knew about Appalachia and turns it on its sunburned ear. It’s a satisfying ending to a tribute to misunderstood people in a place where beauty is both tremendous and tattered as a dog-pawed quilt. Gipe’s stories and drawings crackle with a full-throated reverence that is stereotype bending, unsentimental, and utterly original. When the crotch grabbers get their due, you will laugh, cheer, and shake your head.”

Beth Macy, author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

“Robert Gipe adopts us into a family of characters so endearing, we can’t help but wade with them into the mess of life. A sensitively folded narrative, Pop is layered with the whimsy of Jacktales and a reckoning of the human spirit’s quest to upend society’s injustices. As always, Gipe’s voice is honest, true, and unflinching.”

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, author of Even as We Breathe

“Robert Gipe is the writer’s writer of Appalachia, our soothsayer and sage. His work has busted our storytelling wide open, and his legacy will be a long one. In Pop, the Canard County saga draws to a perfect close with all the trademarks we have come to expect of its author: gut-punch dialogue, beautiful prose, unique illustrations, and a hard reckoning with ourselves and our neighbors. Only Gipe can show us our wounds like this, and he teaches us once again how beautiful, wacky, and tender we are. I am sad to say goodbye to this trilogy. Thank you, Dawn. Thank you, everyone in Canard County. And thank you, Robert, for every brilliant word.”

Leah Hampton, author of F*ckface and Other Stories

“The chapter where a beer-drinking crowd collectively concocts a script concept where alien drug dealers conspire with One-Percenters to turn addicts into beasts and grab the region’s remaining coal — by itself it’s worth the price of the book.”

LEO Weekly

“In Robert Gipe’s sublime new illustrated novel, Pop, the final installment in his Canard County Trilogy, he brings his quirky, weighty, multi-generational Appalachian tale to a satisfying close…. Pop fizzes with the genuine energy and empathy readers love about Gipe’s writing.”

Changes Seven magazine

“Readers inside and outside Appalachia will be captivated by the folks of Canard County, but for anyone from Appalachia, reading Pop is like coming home. Gipe is a master storyteller who will make you laugh and cry, usually at the same time. His characters are folks you know, folks you fear, and folks you love. Punctuated by his extraordinary illustrations, the story of Dawn Jewell, her daughter Nicolette, and their kin is a celebration of love, family, and forgiveness. This is a book that left me wrung out and full at the same time, and that I can’t wait to put in the hands of my students.”

Jessica Salfia, author of 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers' Strike and president of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of English

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