Jack Selvedge works a dying trade in a dead town. When Rebekah Rainsford returns on the run from her father, her dark history consumes him, and she becomes the potential for his salvation, the only thing that might dredge him up from his crisis of indifference. As betrayal and tragedy change Jack's life forever, he discovers a new if nascent hope amid the harshly beautiful western landscape that shaped him. A deeply written and deeply felt story of love, depravity, and shattered ideals, Pale Harvest examines the loss of beauty, purity, and simplicity within the mindset of the rural American West.
"[A]n unforgettable literary blast
.Hepner's characters are among the most compelling to be experienced in contemporary fiction
readers will be moved by the author's poetic rendition of the land's unique topography that inflames, confounds, and rarely satisfies one's personal hunger for carving out a meaningful and happy life."
THE UTAH REVIEW
"At once bleak and pleasingly beautiful, the novel grows true from pain, betrayal, loss, love, and pale salvation."
" Pale Harvest is a dark novel by a deft storyteller."
HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
"Dazzlingly laconic, making poetry of the sheer sweat and physicality of everyday life in a wornout landscape
LIBRARY JOURNAL , "Small-Press Gems"
"Hepner's stunning debut novel is an homage to the barren landscape of the American West. Hepner's gorgeous prose evokes the austerity and lonely beauty of the landscape. The novel is a meditation on the nature of hope and selfdetermination, a sweeping elegy to a dying town and to the bond between blood and earth."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
a deeply moving and intellectually profound novel built on the iconic myth of the American West. Think McMurtry's The Last Picture Show or Horseman, Pass By
Hepner draws a narrative exploring the existential angst smoldering in the rural West as family farmers who hold stewardship of the land confront social and economic conditions beyond their control. A bravura debut."
KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
"A quietly dazzling debut that any reader could enjoy."
LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)
"Set in a rugged scrap of Utah, this first novel rings with the hardscrabble tones of Steinbeck
Pale Harvest is lush with unusual vocabulary and microscopic detail that combine to evoke a land and a kind of life singular to the American West."
"Hepner is a master storyteller, a craftsman of the first order, and a fine new talent. His Western Realism is a refreshing jolt, a throwback to Steinbeck and Stegner with its own stamp of uniqueness."
ANTHONY SWOFFORD , author of Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails
"Hepner's starkly poetic voice leads us into the lives of characters torn be¬tween the imagined glories of the infinite and the raw realities of hard labor here on earth. Pale Harvest is an unforgettable addition to the ever more various stew of American literature."
SCOTT SPENCER , author of Man in the Woods , A Ship Made of Paper , and Endless Love
|Publisher:||Torrey House Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Braden Hepner graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2009 and now lives in Idaho with his wife and son. This is his first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Braden Hepner’s opening novel is not an easy read. It’s not because of difficult language, nor literary forms that might forbade the casual reader from accessing its contents. Rather, Pale Harvest is difficult to read because of its darkness. No character in this book, from Jack to Rebekah to Roydn to Heber, is free of demons, be they of the characters’ own creation or forced upon them by the actions of others. On every page of the book, these demons are continuously unveiled, laid bare for the reader to observe and consider, with every intimate detail of their nature conveyed with concise, exacting precision. What results is a story that shocks, that disgusts, that causes the reader to contemplate his or her own demons and whether there are any redeeming qualities left in humanity itself. And yet, despite these things, the slightest shimmer of some powerful force keeps the reader coming back: hope. This book is no fairy tale. It’s real. It’s raw. Its ending is one that would be difficult to construe as “happy.” But because of the realness, because of the rawness, hope in its dimmed, diluted state as depicted in Hepner’s novel seems to hold more power than in those stories where hope pervades every waking moment, assuring the reader that absolutely everything will turn out perfectly in the end. By embracing reality, Hepner acknowledges its harshness and unfairness, but also powerfully asserts that hope still holds a place in reality. This hope may be small – even that tomorrow might not be as bad as today – but it is still hope nonetheless, and it’s enough to keep moving forward. With this lesson in mind, Hepner has crafted a masterful portrait into the human experience with all its dirt, grime, and evil, and found a way to leave the reader unsure of, yet hopeful for what is to come, in spite of it all.
Jack Selvedge hasn’t known much but work, responsibility, scarcity, emotional stuntedness and death his entire life, and the setting of Pale Harvest reflects his soul: barren and starved, with pockets of sheer beauty. His grandpa Blair, his friends Heber and Seth, the enticing Rebekah, and even the book’s minor characters, are fleshed and full, authentic, leaping to life through Hepner’s apt and incisive words. Gritty, at times devastating, Jack’s tale is that of a dying way of life in a re-constructing land—the experiences of his youth will not be replicated by the next generation, and this loss is felt in fire, drownings, and death at both beginnings and endings of lives. With a uniquely powerful vision and a well-honed craft, Hepner takes the reader deep into what it means to live in a disrupted world.