Pop: An Illustrated Novel Robert Gipe February 2021 HC: 978-0-8214-2439-1 $28.95 Purchase here
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.
The narration in this work alternates between multiple characters from the series. Dawn Jewell, the protagonist at the center of the trilogy’s groundbreaking opener, Trampoline, shares narration with her seventeen-year-old daughter Nicolette, who first appeared as a toddler in the middle installment, Weedeater, as well as her Uncle Hubert, who was a fixture in the first two books.
After the opioid-fueled death of her own mother, and amidst unsettled political times, Dawn has retreated into internet scrolling and unhealthy eating. Ever sharp-witted, she strives to break her malaise.
Operating with only sporadic oversight, Nicolette and her pals launch Feral Girl, a brand of craft sodas that draw from regional flavors. In spite of her successes, she remains unsettled, and menace looms in the form of an abusive police officer who happens to be her cousin.
Hubert is a man seeking greater purpose at the back third of a life lived outside the law, but what good’s redemption if you can’t move a dead body when the necessity arises?
Against this backdrop, a real live movie crew comes to Canard County to film the most fanciful psychedelic alien horror movie anyone’s ever seen. But will it lean into the tired tropes of the region, or will the locals refocus its cameras onto greater truths?
Pop fizzes with the genuine energy and empathy readers love about Gipe’s writing.
Wesley Browne is the author of Hillbilly Hustle. He is the founder and host of Pages & Pints Reading Series at Apollo Pizza in Richmond, Kentucky. He lives with his wife and two sons in Madison County, Kentucky, where he practices law, co-owns and helps manage local restaurants and a music venue, and coaches sports.