Lit talk: Lara Tupper’s ‘Amphibians’

Zoom it: March 25 at 7 p.m.
Wed, 03/03/2021 - 8:15am

Author Lara Tupper always starts with place when beginning a new novel or short story. Coming up in real life, the place will be Print: A Book Store in Portland, virtually on Zoom on March 25 at 7 p.m. The hour-long “in conversation” event is in celebration of the release of Lara’s short story collection, “Amphibians,” being released March 15.

Professor and author Joan Silber will be interviewing Boothbay Harbor’s hometown girl about the new book. Silber was awarded the PEN/Faulkner and National Book Critics Circle Award for “Improvement.”

“She’s honestly one of my favorite writers. Joan has written collections where stories are linked - and I was inspired by that with this book,” Lara said. “Joan has been a great source of support over the years.”

Silber is certainly a fan of her former writing student’s work. Of “Amphibians” Silber writes, "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."

Extraordinary talent indeed; “Amphibians” is already a Leapfrog Global Fiction Prize winner!

There are 11 short stories in this compilation, with the two Maine stories beginning and ending the book. The stories are somewhat connected through a few recurring characters, one of which is introduced in the first Maine story, “Amphibians.”

Like “Off Island,” published last year, this new book has also been in the works for 20 years. Two of the “newer” short stories are the first (and Lara’s favorite), “Amphibians” and “The Mission Bell,” based on the lyrics to “Hotel California.”

One theme running through “Amphibians” is adaption; how we adapt to a new place or try to get to a new place in a personal growth kind of way.

“It’s about not feeling quite right in your own skin. Do you rely on others to change your circumstance or do you do it yourself?” shared Lara. “Another central theme is turning to a creative outlet through periods in their lives – it might be music, dance, art, or writing. It’s what I do when I’m not sure of what direction to take. This is very visceral to me.”

Synopsis: “Amphibians” invites further contemplation of female physicality—what it means to reside in a female form. 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 home in a cross-cultural way, and the sensation of feeling not quite right in one’s own skin, on land and near water, at home and abroad.

Prior to the Zoom event in Portland, Lara has another virtual “In Conversation” event at the Becket Athenaeum on March 20 at 7 p.m. There she’ll be interviewed by Matthew Tannenbaum of The Book Store.

“I’d love to see some familiar faces on the screen March 20 and 25. And hopefully, hopefully I’ll be able to come to Maine in person this year!”

Lara Tupper encourages readers interested in getting a copy of her latest work through their local bookstores. The book is also available on her website,, through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Audiobooks.