books, stories, essays
"Pure color! Everything must be sacrificed to it," said Paul Gauguin. OFF ISLAND presents two parallel stories about artists who sacrifice. Paul and Mette describe their marriage in 1903; Pete and Molly describe their daily lives in contemporary coastal Maine.
Short story collection forthcoming from Leapfrog Press (2020); winner, Leapfrog Fiction Contest. "A compelling, wise and beautiful book."- Ramona Ausubel, contest judge
In this linked short story collection, an amphibious aircraft crashes in Maine, a young girl skinny-dips with her elders, a distraught cruise ship dancer boards a water taxi in Grenada, and travelers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi long for familiar oceans. Back in New England, small town artists try to smudge out their tedium with seaside transgressions. Amphibians celebrates the sensation of feeling not quite right in one's own skin, both on land and near water, at home and abroad.
"Funny, fast-paced, and incisive, A Thousand and One Nights captures the performances, large and small, we use to make it through life." -Harcourt
"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
“Wonderful and incisive, A Thousand and One Nights tells us in a new way what it means to be young and American. Tupper casts a keen, intelligent eye on the contemporary world, its multitude of fakeries and deceits, providing us with a witty, poignant, wholly worthwhile read.”— Elizabeth Strout
adaptation co-written with filmmaker Greg Eismin. Call us, Christopher Guest!
“Irresistibly clever.” -Chicago Tribune
“A Thousand and One Nights [is] beautifully understated in its emotional intelligence, and wry and clear-eyed and psychologically astute... This is a moving and accomplished first novel.” --Jim Shepard
"Lara Tupper’s novel is more than the story of one American woman’s journey through love, the world, and her twenties. It’s an exploration of adventure, desire, and thwarted ambition, one that will resonate with anyone who has ever left her comfort zone or time zone. By turns funny and somber, Tupper moves from the theme park cheeriness of cruise ship musicals to the dark bars of Dubai and Shanghai – with sharp sensibilities and a light touch." --Rachel DeWoskin
“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
“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
“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
“A clever tale of a young woman’s witty, dissolute, and sometimes desperate tryst with overseas stage-act fame, A Thousand and One Nights shines with the poignant honesty of a pop song singer who can’t quite get her life in key. Tupper has written a delightful first novel.”--Kim Ponders
"Sometimes a novel's premise is so out there that it perversely manages to feel like real life, with all its stranger-than-fiction twists and turns. Such is the case with Lara Tupper's debut, A Thousand and One Nights, an alternately hilarious and poignant look at the unsettled state of one young woman trying to make it outside the socially sanctioned college-office-marriage trajectory. Our heroine, a plucky (but not annoyingly so) 22-year-old named Karla, drifts first into a job as an entertainer on the MS Sound of Music cruise ship, then into an affair with a shuffleboard supervisor/nightly musical performer named Jack. When Jack suggests extending their fling to an on-land professional partnership, they quickly embark on a surreal showbiz circuit of hotel bars in such far-flung locales as China and Dubai. Along the way, Karla begins to question her adventure-for-adventure's-sake personal ethos, as well as suffer from the toll exacted by faking enthusiasm for a living. 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."
"The Caribbean is only one stop on a long journey for the heroine of Lara Tupper's skilled debut. It's 1995, and 22-year-old Karla can't imagine anything better than her new job as a cruise ship singer. Yes, she's surrounded by fakery, and shipboard life can get monotonous, but a cheap thrill is still a thrill. Soon Karla meets Jack, a fellow entertainer, and the two team up professionally and romantically.
As singing duo Northern Lights, Karla and Jack leave the ship to play gigs in the United Arab Emirates then end up at a hotel in Shanghai, trying to pull themselves from the rut into which they've fallen. Karla's back hurts nightly from wearing high heels, and she finds herself unable to connect to the world. She drinks too much, and Jack drinks even more. Finally, Karla makes her way toward a healthier, if less glamorous, life.
All this sounds terribly sad, and it is, but "A Thousand and One Nights" is also funny and insightful and told in prose as resilient as Karla's spirit. Keep an eye on Lara Tupper; she is sure to go far." --Rebecca Oppenheimer, National Book Critics' Circle member
FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“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.”
FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE
"The mansion of show business contains numerous backstairs and broom cupboards, and Karla, the young heroine of this debut novel, finds herself consigned to one of them when she lands a job right out of college as an entertainer on a cruise ship. Anticipating adventure and romance, she soon realizes that what she has become is a camp counselor with eye makeup. When her shipboard boyfriend, a British guitarist named Jack, suggests that they strike out on their own as a globetrotting lounge duo, she jumps at the chance.... It is...shrewdly observed and redolent of inside information about life behind the door marked 'Private.'"
Cited as "New in Paperback"
FROM THE SACRAMENTO BEE
"Add [this] title to your must-read list: 'A Thousand and One Nights' by Lara Tupper (Harvest/Harcourt). Tupper's debut novel follows the misadventures of Karla and Jack, second-tier entertainers who team up and sing their way from the cruise-ship circuit to nightclubs in foreign countries. If you thought such a life is glamorous, think again." --Allen Pierleoni
FROM CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
Cited as "NEW IN PAPERBACK: Karla and Jack are a romantic twosome aboard the MS Sound of Music, where they both are musicians. They jump ship and set out for careers as itinerant entertainers, but four years later, Karla is beset by ennui as she looks at her cliched professional life and her slowly unraveling relationship with Jack.
Publishers Weekly said that in this debut novel Tupper 'proves herself a canny observer of the insular world of nomadic entertainers.'"--Donna Marchetti, Cleveland Plain Dealer
From Canada's ELEVENTH TRANSMISSION
"Tupper’s language is almost tonal in its simple, unfettered communication of her characters’ conditions and in her
portrayal of their limits as human beings. Each shade of feeling or prick of insight is presented, bare and unashamed;
the reader is free to observe them with the sense that the information is unfiltered, colored only by the most delicate
emotions of the narrator. In A Thousand and One Nights, Tupper presents a steady and detailed observation of a
woman struggling to confront her own illusions."-- Anne Cammon
FROM THE BOOTHBAY REGISTER
An excellent passport to faraway lands, from England to Abu Dhabi to China to New York City as well as a window into the complexities of the relationship be-tween Karla and Jack. 'A Thousand and One Nights' is a poignant, wry and humorous account of a Maine girl seeing the world, and, eventually, her true self."--Lisa Kristoff