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Product Details
$16.00  $14.88
Leapfrog Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.5 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author
Lara Tupper is the author of Off Island, a novel inspired by Paul Gauguin's strange marriage (Encircle, January 2020), and A Thousand and One Nights (Harcourt, 2007, and Untreed Reads, 2015), an autobiographical novel about singers at sea. Her prose was runner-up for the 2019 Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and has appeared in Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak (Harper Perennial), The Believer, Nowhere Magazine, The Ghost Story, Dogwood Journal, Epiphany, Zone 3 and other literary magazines. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she taught at Rutgers University for many years and now presents writing workshops and retreats in Massachusetts. She is also a jazz vocalist; her latest album is This Dance.
Reviews of OFF ISLAND, 2020:
"Lara Tupper's OFF ISLAND is a beautiful accomplishment, unlike any other work of fiction I can recall. The two narratives intertwine in such a way as to both demystify historical celebrity and elevate contemporary plainfolk. The prose is seductive and elegant, the story smart, enlightening, and oh so satisfying." - Antonya Nelson, author of BOUND and FUNNY ONCE
"What if Paul Gauguin went to Maine? That's the launching point of Lara Tupper's glistening new novel, OFF ISLAND, which reaches back into a vividly imagined history and traces it forward into the modern day lives of a tortured artist who may or may not be Gauguin's descendant and the women he loves. In mesmeric prose, rich with sensual detail and a burning empathy for her characters, moving between Maine and New York and Copenhagen, Tupper blends what might have been with what is and in doing so throws a painter's light on all our pasts and presents." - Jeremy Gavron, author of FELIX CULPA and A WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME
"Beautifully understated, deft in its details, evocative of place and eras, Lara Tupper's OFF ISLAND combines the painter's perception of the visual world with the sensuality and coarseness of the physical world. Masterful and matter-of-fact, Tupper adeptly blends art, character study, and mystery in this compact, elliptical novel." - Peter Turchi, author of A MUSE AND A MAZE and MAPS OF THE IMAGINATION
"Dense with beautiful coastal imagery and thoughtful in its consideration of ill-suited connections, the novel picks its seams of marriages and affairs with clarity. Though Gauguin's legacy is dark, OFF ISLAND, with its vulnerable characters and moody setting, is a novel to savor." - Karen Rigby, FOREWORD REVIEWS

Cruise ship entertainers fall in and out of love as they take their act from the seas to exotic luxury hotels in Tupper's promising debut. ... Tupper proves herself a canny observer of the insular world of nomadic entertainers." Publishers Weekly
"An alternately hilarious and poignant look at the unsettled state of one woman trying to make it outside the socially sanctioned college-office-marriage trajectory... Both an off-kilter take on the conventional coming-of-age tale and a sly commentary on the underbelly of celebrity culture, this truly original book is basically uncategorizable--blissfully so."
"Wry and clear-eyed and psychologically astute... this is a moving and accomplished first novel." (Jim Shepard, author of Project X)
"A Thousand and One Nights shines with the poignant honesty of a pop song singer who can't quite get her life in key." (Kim Ponders, author of The Art of Uncontrolled Flight)
"Music to the ear ... Tupper is a kind of women''s Rick Moody." (Bill Roorbach, author of Big Bend)
"A moving account of finding yourself amid the detritus of your dreams." (CJ Hribal, author of The Company Car)
"A one-of-a-kind book, fascinating and honest." (Joan Silber, author of Ideas of Heaven)
"A surprising look into an unfamiliar world." (Alison Lurie, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Foreign Affairs)
"Tupper is a writer of many gifts, with a terrific story to tell." (Judith Grossman, author Her Own Terms)
Blurb from Joan Silber
"From page one, Amphibians is the work of an extraordinary talent. How shrewd and compelling these stories are, as they range from Maine to New York to Japan to the Emirates and back. Their remarkable gift is to show us--wisely and sharply--the crucial contradictions of feeling in whatever unfolds, from passing encounters to long-held ties."
Review by Ramona Ausubel:
What a compelling, wise and beautiful book! I love the sense of place. The way each location feels prickly and alive, like it might lift off the page. Beautiful word choices like: "the muzzy water." Many others, but this one told me that I was in the hands of a writer. I love the way characters are drawn: "Helen told this story to the girl, who perhaps hadn't realized there was life before she was born. Or that her mother hadn't always been like this, braced for the girl's attention." I learn about each of them, and about the relationships. The collections stays beautifully in the body. "She wants to say, The chill of the water--it doesn't last. Most grown ups can only think about the smack of it, the dread. This is what it means to get older." This feeling of being cold as a kid vs. being cold as an adult is true and wise, and is also characterizing. There is a lot about bodies in the book, which is terrific. The fact that the writing is so physical matters because, for example, the first story starts with a mother/daughter relationship and moves through adolescence and into adulthood where a dangerous and unfamiliar world waits. If we weren't so rooted in the body and physical world it might feel harder to make that leap. It doesn't. So much is strange, so much is unfamiliar, and the girl in the story is working, working to understand, to sort, to feel. Lovely too that it returns to the water, to the simple, to the one body suspended. I love the cross-cultural work on the page. I love that we have Japan, the UAE, Rome! All of these stories ask us to think about the idea of home. Home as a cruise ship, home as a place distant enough to be reinvented, home as a gym, home as a body, home as a faraway story. Some of my favorite stories are "Dishdash" (which is also a terrific title!) and "Belly Dancing." There's such deep longing in "Dishdash." I adore the lines: "Maybe he fell in, she thinks now at the bar. Maybe the fish are eating him alive. Help me, she thinks. Wonder Twin power, activate. But he doesn't appear." The ending of that story nearly killed me. So tense! Bodies do different work in "Belly Dancing" and the threat of being in a female body, the way that translates when viewed in this place, is striking. But also the freedom of travel and Allie's wish to reinvent herself. And home, a song she can't quite hear anymore. The tension between being known and being unknown. It's really well done. It's also threatening and genuinely scary. Excellent dialogue in "The Mission Bell."
I think the collection ends perfectly with the image of the "you" in "Good Neighbors" untying the rope and bobbing away in the stolen boat. It's such a small gesture but so huge and representative of everything swirling through the book.