The Joy of interview
"I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains." On the Majesty of True Grit (a book by Charles Portis).
So, in this novel I wrote called Trampoline, a man named Delbert Jewell dies in a coal mine when a cutting machine operated by a drug-addled person pins him against the rib and crushes him in an underground mine. The dead man's daughter Dawn Jewell narrates the novel. Writing the novel, I imagined that in the movie that will no doubt be made about Trampoline, "No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses plays during the opening montage of underground miners at work (kind of like at the beginning of Harlan County USA). It is kind of Delbert's message to Dawn. Or the voice of her father in Dawn's head. Something. I don't know.
Ann Pancake still writes mountain.
When a woman leaves the mountains, moves to New York, or in this case Seattle, away from where things are happening, it's easy to forget about them. But dont yall let that happen to Ann Pancake. You remember she wrote a kickass mountaintop removal/flood novel a few years back, Strange As This Weather Has Been, full of West Virginia voices and it won a bunch of awards. Then she moved out west to find work. Now she's put out a book of novellas and stories called Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley and it is kickass. Dogs run off. People run off. People are loose inside. People draw strength from plastic men. People love fossils, but mourn the loss of the forms that made them. I'm telling you. Awesome. It's all good, but wait til you hear the verbs. All right. 'Nuff said.
Pretty early on in the writing of the novel Trampoline, I ran up on the song "Trampoline" by Joe Henry. I'm not sure what he would say he's singing about, but the lyrics about getting high and "this time I'm not coming down" made sense to me in thinking about a place where escape is so much on the minds of so many. And how that escape can take place through physical flight and/or by getting high. Plus trampolines are everywhere around here. I made a writing soundtrack that stuck with me through the whole writing process. I'll probably put more of the songs here, since when you have a blog you have to put up something.
I, You, Dawn.
Interesting essay by Edan Lepucki this week on The Millions about first vs. third person narration in young adult novels. Cites a point made by Cecil Castellucci that a novel with a young narrator is young adult "when it has a young protagonist and the action is happening right now or has just happened. If a book has a young protagonist, but it is nostalgic or self-aware, then it is an adult book." In Trampoline, I think Dawn is a little older when she is narrating than when the events happened. Far enough away from the events to want to make sense of them, but not as old as she is when one is reading them. The events of Trampoline took place in 1998. I think Dawn narrated the book in the early 2000s.
I love David Simon.
Ohio University Press will publish my first novel, Trampoline, in March 2015. I'll be reading out of it various places. You can find out where here.
Who are we?
This is the first blog post. I hope they will get better. But it's Super Bowl Sunday. I am thinking about meat. About how we are all meat. How I would like to eat some meat. Everybody nurture your spirit this week, so we can all be more than just meat. Wear a helmet, and no head-first tackling, OK?
Robert Gipe grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. He lives in Harlan, Kentucky.