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Pale Harvest

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Jack Selvedge works a dying trade in a dead town. When the lovely 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 harshl ...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Torrey House Press (first published July 15th 2014)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  55 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Sep 11, 2014 marked it as couldnt-finish  ·  review of another edition
Gabe saw me pick this up from the nightstand and said, "Why are you reading that?" and I told him I didn't remember.
Maybe one of my friends had recommended it or maybe I'd cataloged it and it sounded interesting. I don't know why I read most of the stuff I do.

I made it 7 pages into the book and that took me three hours. I am not supposed to read this story. Here's why: It employs a writing style I loathe and I am not going to be able to get past that so I will give up now.

Some readers will find
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Swofford's blurb is nearly spot-on, though I think Hepner's prose is less Steinbeck and Stegner, and more Melville and McCarthy. Though, perhaps, Swofford was observing, and here I would say rightly, that Hepner's sense of place reminds the reader of viewing a vast high desert landscape bit by bit through the enhanced clarity of a macro lens.
These characters are memorable in the way we want characters to be, alive in ways real and interesting, surprising in ways breathtaking and maddening by tur
Meagan Bird
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I agree with Jaren, this novel is much more Melville and McCarthy, but without the inflated language that can sometimes drive me crazy when I'm knee-deep in a novel written by the latter. Every single description Hepner writes is unique, beautiful, and evokes the exact connotations that are deserved, whether it's describing the a vast landscape or a brutal image. I appreciate that each sentence in this novel is done with intention and purpose. The ever-present hope, even in dire circumstances, m ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work
I rarely review books here that I read for work, but wow. Hepner's prose is timeless. It is a slow burn, stark and lonely. A bit like Cormac McCarthy but without the huge ego (thank god). It is a twilight sky in Utah, the unthinking harshness of nature. Gorgeous. ...more
Elizabeth Kennedy
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Apparently Braden Hepner has read Cormac McCarthy. I don’t say this to disparage Hepner. I really liked both McCarthy novels I've read. Hepner’s style feels something akin to McCarthy’s: long, beautifully twisting descriptive prose matched with more plainly written dialogue. Those readers who don’t enjoy McCarthy’s style will likely struggle to appreciate Hepner’s style as well. Where some people may find McCarthy (and Hepner’s) descriptions overly wordy and annoying, they have quite another eff ...more
Mary Sojourner
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hepner is a master of quietly fierce writing. He's a born-for-it storyteller, his words emerging from Place as a little high desert spring might. He knows desert. He knows stories. He knows that Place shapes us inexorably. And in Pale Harvest, he understands the irresistible erotic power of restraint.

Jack Selvedge is a young man - and he is as ancient as the earth he ocupies, the earth that ultimately brings him into adulthood. Hepner writes Selvedge from his own life. He grants us his experienc
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally reviewed in 15 Bytes.

Braden Hepner’s first novel, Pale Harvest (Torrey House Press), is a Sisyphean tale of a young man yearning for more than warm udders, manure, and the patience to make a straight-line furrow with an old tractor held together with bailing wire. The novel is set on a dairy farm in northern Utah, at the foot of high, foreboding mountains to the east and an open, unfertile desert to the west. It’s sometime in the latter half of
Glassworks Magazine
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before the return of Rebekah Rainsford, Jack Selvedge’s world is as small as it is consistent. Jack has known little of the world but the hard hours and hopeless returns of his life as a dairy farmer on his grandfather’s farm; a craft that is dying along with Juniper Scrag, his time-forgotten hometown in the shadows of the Salt Lakes. Jack is a man of the land, dedicated to his dreams of inheriting the farm and carrying on his grandfather’s legacy of labor and sacrifice.

This theme of life and la
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the High Country News Fall 2014 Reading List ... hard-bitten farm kid's life intertwines with soiled goddess and Mormon undertones. ...more
Stacy Beyer
Sep 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Just could not get into it.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
A beautifully written (if occasionally overzealous in its use of a thesaurus), psychologically rich novel, but, oh, so unrelentingly sad, almost--almost--hopeless. There are impressive renderings of the daily work routines on a hardscrabble dairy farm on which our 20-year-old protagonist has come to bear the lion’s share of the work for little financial reward. It is, I guess, a love story--of love for the land; love, even, for the work required to tame the land and make it fruitful; and, most o ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I have a love-hate relationship with this book. It is well written and pulled me in from the beginning. The reflections by the main character are interesting and thought provoking but when he sinks into his meditations about women (a certain woman), it gets disturbing. And nothing tends to come of it. The woman he’s musing about doesn’t really ever come out and set any kind of boundaries for him, they’re just pulled along in the story together without much for the reader to be clear about; what ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's an honest book showing the dying of a small town. Ultimately, it's about a state of complete aloneness and separation. My problem is that I believe that even in dying, there is some beauty or stark truth that makes us gasp. In every small action, there is always opposites. I need a glimpse of opposition in all things to get a bigger picture. I wanted visions. I did not find this element in the book to balance out the muck and mud and river-bottom late-night beer bottle reveries. The main ch ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm stretching to give this book four stars. It is some of the best writing I have read from a local, LDS author. This is Hepner's first novel, and he is a talented writer. The prose had just the right amount of mingled scripture. I'll admit, I googled him to see if a second book was in the works (couldn't find anything). Some may find this book difficult to read, the (often) foul language is pretty spot-on for rural ranchers of varying degrees of LDS orthodoxy. The story took me back to my high ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was an interesting read, going very much in hand with the feelings many younger adults have here in Utah. There a questioning of the old religion and god. There is a desire to leave but not really leave the traditions of the past. It is a sad story with a lot of contemplation.
The best was to describe it to me is it is like hearing the thoughts of a person who doesn't talk much but thinks deeply.
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely not for someone into mainstream pop sort of books. It is heavy, honest, and beautifully symbolic. It sticks in my head because of the beautiful language and metaphors that I want to go back and investigate over and over again. I would highly recommend it to fans of McCarthy, or really anyone who can recognize hardships as tributes to the power of the human spirit. I loved it. Not one to rush through.
Amy Krohn
Mar 25, 2015 rated it liked it
I give it a three because of the foul language, the character who speaks anti-Christian speeches, and the way the book turned out weirdly environmentalist.
On the plus side, this book speaks the experienced truth about dairy farming today. It paints a vivid picture of the rural West. And the main character is very likable.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
By Chapter 3 I lost interest in this book. The voice and character of Heber (oh so fraught with meaning)
shifted dramatically and without warning, going from simple, slang western talk, to lofty, deep, ideas about spirituality. From that point on the book took on the feeling of a long, boring sermon.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Should have been my kind of book, great sense of place, in my backyard, but I found the writing bogged down too often, and while some characters were very well developed, others were not at all.
Chris Dorr
Dec 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Had to stop after 40 pages. The writing is sooooo boring - describing farming and dialog that is so mundane I couldn't take it. Moving on.... ...more
Paul Williams
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Nov 13, 2013
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Apr 06, 2015
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BRADEN HEPNER graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2009 and now lives in Idaho with his wife and son. Pale Harvest is his first novel.

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