Koppelman, Amy 1969-

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KOPPELMAN, Amy 1969-


Born 1969; married Brian Koppelman (a filmmaker); children: two. Education: Columbia University, M.F.A. (writing).


Home—New York, NY. Office—c/o Author Mail, MacAdam/Cage, 155 Sansome St., Suite 550, San Francisco, CA 94104. Agent—Amy Rennert, 98 Main Street, #302, Tiburon, CA 94920. E-mail—[email protected].




A Mouthful of Air: A Novel, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Koppelman's work has appeared in the New York Observer and Lilith.


Amy Koppelman's debut novel, A Mouthful of Air, was in part inspired by the suicide death of rock star Kurt Cobain in 1994. It got Koppelman, whose writings have appeared in the New York Observer and Lilith, to start thinking about how depression is often underplayed. A victim of such depression herself, Koppelman found a way to express herself in the story of how a deep and long-lasting depression affects a young wife and mother.

In the novel, Koppelman focuses on New Yorker Julie, who is married to a successful lawyer, Ethan, and is the mother of a baby boy. Not long after giving birth, however, she sinks into a depression and attempts to kill herself. With the help of her husband and a psychiatrist who prescribes antidepressants, Julie is able to gather her life back into functioning form. She begins to see her depression as a condition rooted in her own past: her parents' divorce and her drug-addicted brother have profoundly affected her. However, just as she begins to feel whole again, Julie learns that she is once more pregnant and must go off her antidepressants. She will also need to adjust to a suburban life, for her husband has bought a family home on Long Island. She fears she will not be able to cope with all these changes, and slowly the narrative builds to a tragic denouement.

Koppelman's novel won favorable reviews for its unrelenting portrayal of the human costs of depression. A contributor to Publishers Weekly, for example, called it a "polished debut," that is "lean, minutely detailed and frighteningly convincing." Denise Hoover, writing in Booklist, found Koppelman's prose "visceral," and further commented that "this tragic tale, though difficult to read, is worth the effort." For a Kirkus Reviews critic, the novel is a "true and often moving portrait … but, still, far too-self-contained to succeed as a narrative." David Exum, writing in the Bookreporter.com, thought the most important thing about Koppelman's novel is "the underlying theme that depression, no matter what shape or form, isn't something to be brushed off as merely a case of melancholy." Similarly, Kam White, writing in MostlyFiction.com, called A Mouthful of Air "a very detailed, well-written and unique debut novel." Judy D'Mello in the New York Observer dubbed A Mouthful of Air a "satisfying antidote to the now-hackneyed Mothers Struggling and Juggling Babies and Hedge Funds story line." For D'Mello, Julie "belongs to a fresh breed of fem-lit characters: Moms Who Just Can't Cope."

Commenting on her work on her Web site, Koppelman noted that the "feelings in my novel, the fear, the endless self-doubt, well, all that stuff is pretty close to the bone." Koppelman further observed, "Today there are medicines that help [with depression]. And there are countless worthwhile books that document that journey toward recovery. I think it's fair to tell you, though: this isn't one of them."



Booklist, April 15, 2003, Denise Hoover, review of A Mouthful of Air: A Novel, p. 1449.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of A Mouthful of Air, pp. 259-260.

New York Magazine, July 21, 2003, Alex Williams "The New Literary Lottery."

New York Observer, April, 2003, Judy D'Mello, review of A Mouthful of Air.

Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2003, "Room Full for 'Mouthful,'" p. 27; May 12, 2003, review of A Mouthful of Air, p. 46.


Amy Koppelman home page,http://www.amykoppelman.com (March 4, 2004).

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 30, 2003), David Exum, review of A Mouthful of Air.

Boston Herald Online,http://www.bostonherald.com/ (May 2, 2003), David Exum, review of A Mouthful of Air.

Curled up with Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October, 30, 2003), Luan Gaines, review of A Mouthful of Air.

MostlyFiction.com,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (June 18, 2003), Kam White, review of A Mouthful of Air.*