Jack Selvedge has lived on his grandfather’s farm in the rural high desert of Utah since he was orphaned at age fourteen. Working his remaining youth away on a farm on the brink of extinction, he finds his life stagnant and his existence lukewarm. The town, population 500, also seems dead, its square boarded up and lifeless and its youth gone. When Rebekah returns on the run from her father, Jack’s life is infused with new possibility and with a want he has never known. She becomes the potential for his salvation, the only thing that might dredge him up from belated confusion and the crisis his indifference has led him to. He isn’t the only man she affects this way, and it soon becomes clear why girls like her don’t stay in towns like this one.
The combination of the self-imposed decline of those around him, Rebekah’s struggle to reestablish herself in a world turned upside down by her father’s villainy, and Jack’s attempt to break from the only life he knows and to win Rebekah culminate in a bizarre and varied tragedy.
Pale Harvest is the story of a young man’s struggle to reckon with the values and ideals that have shaped him, despite the hallmarks of their ruin all around him. An exploration of the decline and demise of small towns in the American west, the subsequent loss of beauty and purity therein, and the repercussions of shattered ideals, Pale Harvest ultimately ponders the human spirit’s capacity not only to endure what fate brings, but to become renewed in alternate paths because of it.
Read an excerpt HERE.
Read a short interview with the author HERE.
Praise for the novel:
"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 self-determination, a sweeping elegy to a dying town and to the bond between blood and earth." ~Publishers Weekly
"...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
"Set in a rugged scrap of Utah, this first novel rings with the hard-scrabble 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...One of the most important characters is the landscape: between a river that takes lives and a desert that hypnotizes, the setting is inextricably linked to Jack's character." ~Forward Reviews
"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
"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 and Endless Love