Tupper, Lara 1973(?)-
Tupper, Lara 1973(?)-
Born c. 1973, in Boothbay Harbor, ME. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A., 1995; Warren Wilson College, M.F.A., 2001.
Authors Guild, Writers Room, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.
A Thousand and One Nights (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.
Contributor of short stories to journals and Web sites, including Ballyhoo Stories, Zone 3, nidus, and fivechapters.com; contributor of book reviews to the Believer.
Lara Tupper began her career as a lounge singer, performing on cruise ships on the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and in such far-off places as Japan, China, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. At heart a fiction writer, however, she earned her master's degree and became a writing teacher. Her first novel, A Thousand and One Nights, mines Tupper's own experiences working on a cruise ship and traveling to distant lands. She tells the story of Karla, a recent college graduate, who decides to postpone finding a job in the real world and takes a position on a cruise ship as an entertainer. She ends up in a relationship with Jack, one of her fellow entertainers, and soon finds herself joining him in a lounge act in places such as China and Dubai. In an interview for the Boothbay Register, Tupper explained her motivation for using such varied locales in her story: "I was interested in how these settings could affect the characters, as well as provide vivid backdrops." Kristin Dreyer Kramer, in a review for Nights and Weekends, criticized the lack of details in the book, remarking: "I found it especially challenging to care about the characters, since I barely knew anything about them." However, a contributor to Elle praised the book as "an off-kilter take on the conventional coming-of-age tale and a sly commentary on the underbelly of celebrity culture."
Tuppert told CA: "I was very lucky to have supportive and smart professors in my M.F.A. Program at Warren Wilson College, which fostered a very friendly and noncompetitive atmosphere. I think this helps students focus on the craft of writing, rather than the business of publishing. In this sense, everyone in the program influenced me. Of course I'm particularly grateful to my teachers: Jim Shepard, Joan Silber, Judith Grossman and C.J. Hribal. They made me read great books and make me think hard about what I wanted to say in my fiction.
"In terms of my family, my parents read a lot and emphasized reading as a pastime. I grew up in Maine and the winters were LONG and often we'd have a fire and absolute silence and the three of us curled up on separate chairs, reading. Of course, this drove me nuts as a teenager and I couldn't wait to get OUT and make some noise! But my ability to entertain myself with books is a blessing now—I look forward to time when I can curl up in silence and read.
"I read novels primarily. I like to sit with an idea for a while—short stories tend to end too quickly for me. I admire Heidi Julavits, A.M. Homes and Jennifer Egan for their sharp prose and sharp observations. (And for their surprising plot turns—Julavits's The Uses of Enchantment is one of the most inventive books I've read lately in terms of structure and point of view. It's a very, very clever book, but with heart—it has a clear reason for being clever. Music for Torching is an older Homes work I just read—it just left me breathless—incredible pacing. I'm in the middle of Egan's The Keep right now, which is also consistently surprising.) In high school I loved John Irving for his ability to string together complicated plots—Owen Meany and Cider House Rules were just remarkable to me in terms of complex plotting that didn't feel contrived. In college I loved the modernists: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce—their willingness to play with language and convention. I like Nick Hornby and Jim Shepard and Bill Roorbach for their humor—they strike me as joyful writers, even when their subject matter isn't. I love Kazuo Ishiguro for his guarded characters—what's not said out loud is incredibly revealing in his novels (Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, which, like my book, takes place Shanghai). I like to be surprised by fiction, either in terms of fresh and vivid character observations or in terms of what's happening to those characters. I like close details and unexpected shifts in the narrative.
"I teach full time at Rutgers University, so my teaching days are very busy. I try, on days when I'm not in New Brunswick, to get myself to the Writers Room, a wonderful space for writers in N.Y.C., and there I plug away at various projects. I usually have several things I'm working on at once—it keeps me interested day to day. If I just CAN'T face one draft on a given day I can open up another. This is when I don't have deadlines of course … I like to write in the morning, first thing—before anything else has a chance to take up brain space (laundry, groceries, grading papers). This doesn't always happen, but having a place to go to where I'm less likely to think about these things is a tremendous help. Plus, there's a chocolate jar at the Writers Room—we can help ourselves."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of A Thousand and One Nights, p. 1044.
Publishers Weekly, September 18, 2006, review of A Thousand and One Nights, p. 31.
A.E. Literary,http://www.aeliterary.com/ (May 23, 2007), review of A Thousand and One Nights.
Boothbay Register Online,http://boothbayregister.maine.com/ (November 9, 2006), Lisa Kristoff, "Lisa Tupper's First Novel Available in February."
Elle Online,http://www.elle.com/ (May 23, 2007), review of A Thousand and One Nights.
Lara Tupper Home Page,http://www.laratupper.com (May 23, 2007).
Lara Tupper MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/laratupper (May 23, 2007).
Nights and Weekends,http://www.nightsandweekends.com/ (May 23, 2007), Kristin Dryer Kramer, review of A Thousand and One Nights.
Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 23, 2007), Barb Anderson, review of One Thousand and One Nights.