Lara Tupper


THIS Dance, Lara's first full-length album, a tribute to her favorite jazz and pop songs. Co-produced with Bobby Sweet.
harcourt/untreed reads
adaptation co-written with filmmaker Greg Eismin
fiction manuscript
a novel inspired by Paul Gauguin's messy marriage
“A one-of-a-kind book, fascinating and honest.”
--Joan Silber, National Book Critics Circle Award, Improvement

A Thousand and One Nights


For Karla, an Entertainer aboard the MS Sound of Music, the cruise ship life provides a welcome distraction from the insular, Maine town she left behind. Onboard she leads a surreal and shmaltzy existence (musical reviews by night, shuffleboard tournaments by day), interspersed by brief, romantic sojourns in Mediterranean ports of call with her newfound shipmate, Jack. When their ship contracts expire, neither is willing to go back home.

The pair decides instead to join musical forces and become a duo; they secure a series of contracts in the Middle and Far East and their adventures on land begin. Karla's sense of displacement is enhanced on solid ground, in complimentary hotel suites in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Shanghai. She wears slinky dresses and learns as many pop songs as possible, and so begins her uneasy transformation to Lounge Singer Extraordinaire. Aware that she is becoming a disturbing cliché (peripatetic, twenty-something American trying to find herself), Karla tries not to let her anxiety overwhelm her. Jack, meanwhile, drinks more and looks at Karla less.

A Thousand and One Nights is about pursuing the wrong path, knowingly. It’s about bad lyrics and beautiful cocktail waitresses and a Mainer who wants to be a star and won't be. It’s about two people who are very much out of love and unwilling to make it official. It’s a story of covers and false fronts and what it does to a girl singer, over the course of nights and months and years, to fake it so well.

Advance praise for A Thousand and One Nights:

A Thousand and One Nights presents us with a compelling tour of the ersatz, dismally funny, and faintly depressing world of the third tier entertainer: a tour that’s beautifully understated in its emotional intelligence, and wry and clear-eyed and psychologically astute in its portrait of a young couple for whom getting through the day means not facing what’s missing, whether from their act or their relationship. This is a moving and accomplished first novel.
--Jim Shepard, Project X, Love and Hydrogen

Lara Tupper has written an intriguing, often funny, and richly atmospheric novel that follows a young, hipper-than-that couple singing their same-old songs on cruise ships and in the luxury hotels of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Shanghai. It is sharply observed, fresh and authentic in its vision, poignant in its depiction of a couple’s willed façade, and great fun to read. Its keen-eyed view of the strange and cushioned world of entertainers makes for a one-of-a-kind book, fascinating and honest.
--Joan Silber, 2004 National Book Award nominee, Ideas of Heaven

Lara Tupper's first novel is music to the ear. It's travel, too, full of dark corners and poignant wit, a rich international coming of age, boozy nights and friendship, love. And Tupper is a kind of women's Rick Moody, her heroine more or less enslaved on a cruise ship, singing in too heavy dresses, always making her way home.
--Bill Roorbach, Temple Stream, Big Bend, The Smallest Color

Lara Tupper’s debut novel... is an enchanting tale of disenchantment--both candid exposé, and quest for a truer self. It draws us into the life of Karla, a hopeful, fresh-out-of-school singer, as she enters the bizarre twilight zone of international hotel entertainment: four hours a night, six nights a week, in cocktail lounges from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai. An easy life, her British partner persuades her. But while he slides through it all on booze, it’s for Karla to experience the full mind-warping effects of a thousand and one nights (give or take) belting out Candle in the Wind and My Heart Will Go On.

The problem of living even half-honestly in a world of routine cheating and of faked performance is a real one, and gives [this novel] its vital center. Lara Tupper is a writer of many gifts, with a terrific story to tell.
--Judith Grossman, What Aliens Think

A Thousand and One Nights lays bare the hopes and hearts of twenty-somethings yearning for success, adventure and love, and coming up just a little shy on all three counts. Their yearning is palpable, and Lara Tupper skillfully delineates their sadness and desires as they play out on three continents and in a host of less-romantic-than-they-initially-seemed exotic locales. A moving account of finding yourself amid the detritus of your dreams.
--CJ Hribal, The Company Car