Cover image for Reap
Rickstad, Eric.
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Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Viking, 2000.
Physical Description:
264 pages ; 24 cm
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Like a cross between Denis Johnson's Already Dead and David Lynch's Blue Velvet, Reap draws us into the hot, still air of a summer backwoods at whose fringes lurk danger and epiphany. Jessup Burke, a lonely, naive sixteen-year old, has grown up without a father in a jobless, indifferent logging town. Out of high school a year early, he now bikes through the woods with his fishing gear, daydreaming of his sweetheart and their secret "home" in an abandoned farmhouse. When Reg, an embittered, paranoid recluse fresh out of jail for growing marijuana, encounters Jessup hitchhiking, he is at first drawn to the boy's easily manipulated naivete, but the two soon become irreversibly bound. As Jessup unknowingly participates in Reg's perilous, criminal behavior, he also endangers himself when his relationship with Marigold, Reg's younger, married sister, goes beyond friendship.Jessup's rude awakening into adulthood is rendered in sure and supple prose in this dramatic, action-packed novel.

Author Notes

Eric Rickstad is an American author from Vemont. He earned his M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Silent Girls, Lie in Wait, and The Names of Dead Girls which are all books in the Canaan Crime Novel Series. His other novels include Reap, and What Remains of Her which is due to be published in 2018.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In an exciting, mature, and polished first novel, Rickstad pulls back the veneer of the bucolic wilderness of northern Vermont and finds trouble in paradise. The dichotomy between the lush forests and rolling mountains of the New England countryside and the mean, hardscrabble life of its scattered few inhabitants dominates the story. Sixteen-year-old Jessup Burke is out of high school a year early, spending his free time fly-fishing and daydreaming. One day he hitches a ride with Reg Cumber, an angry, small-time con with dreams of cashing in a marijuana crop and heading for greener pastures. Jessup, fatherless, finds a mentor of sorts in Reg, who sees Jessup as a promising underworld apprentice. Rickstad's world is littered with ramshackle homes, broken-down trucks, souped-up hot rods, alcohol, tobacco, torn jeans, and dashed hopes. Reap echoes Robert Stone's stories of colorful, marginal, and often violent characters. The undertone of violence, desperation, and drug dealing as a way of life underscores the fact that the country joins the inner city in becoming a modern American wasteland. --Ted Leventhal

Publisher's Weekly Review

By turns bucolic and eerie, this engaging backwoods bildungsroman set in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom probes the mysteries of growing, as plants, people and situations twist inexorably in unpredictable, dangerous directions. Fanciful 16-year-old loner Jessup Burke dreams of earning the money to fix his broken-down car so he can drive to visit his true love, Emily, who's just moved to Massachusetts with her family. Twenty-nine-year-old ex-con Reg Cumber talks of racing on the NASCAR circuit, and through a bountiful marijuana crop, only part of which belongs to him, he thinks he may have a way to get closer to his dream--and settle some old scores in the bargain. Reg's younger sister, Marigold, is stuck in a dysfunctional marriage; her logger husband had an emasculating chainsaw accident and is suffering from psychic wounds more devastating than his physical injuries. Unseasoned Jessup soon finds himself willingly entangled in the Cumbers' world. In return for money and a promise to fix his car, Jessup goes to work for Reg, helping him bring in the harvest, and Reg teaches him to drive a stick-shift, drink beer, smoke pot and cigarettes. Both of them grew up fatherless, and this commonality bonds the two new friends even closer. Through Reg, Jessup discovers that what he has been told of his own father's death is a shameful lie. Marigold is immediately drawn to Jessup, and she becomes the source of an even greater discovery for him. But her husband is growing dangerous, and so is Reg's scheming. In this promising first novel, Rickstad mirrors the secrets and convolutions of his characters' lives in the snarled landscape and lush, clandestine pot farms. The likable Jessup holds the reader's sympathy and concern throughout the progressively more harrowing, absorbing tale. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Set in Northeast Vermont, this is the story of Jessup Burke, a lonely, fatherless 16-year-old, and Reg Cumber, a 29-year-old ex-con. The two meet when a drunken Reg almost runs over Jessup on a back country road where Jessup is hitchhiking. When Jessup agrees to work for Reg to earn money to fix up his Vega so he can visit his girlfriend Emily, he doesn't realize that he is helping Reg with his marijuana business. While Reg is not the most likable man, he and Jessup both lost their fathers early in life, and they become friends. Reg knows exactly what happened to his father, but Jessup can only guess--an enigma that causes him to reel out of control, and he is sucked into Reg's misanthropic world. Add to that Jessup's infatuation with an older woman, Reg's sister, Marigold. Rickstad's first novel is a violent, action-packed tale that uses a different approach than the traditional coming-of-age story. It has some uneven plotting, and the lack of character development makes it difficult for the reader to care what happens to them. Purchase only for larger fiction collections.--Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.