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Breaking out of Bedlam

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Breaking out of Bedlam

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Praise for Breaking Out of Bedlam:

“Leslie Larson gives an 82-year-old assisted living resident an unforgettable voice: caustic, profane, searingly honest….Cora Sledge is an unlikely heroine. She’s a widow, 82 years old, 300-plus pounds, unable to walk more than a few steps. She’s addicted to junk food, various prescription medicines, and cigarettes. She’s cantankerous, irreverent, and curses like a lumberjack. She’s irresistible.… Breaking Out of Bedlam is the story of Cora’s remarkable transformation. When she examines her past, and her present, she is able to open herself to love and life. Larson has given her an audacious and memorable voice. . . . [A] funny, touching novel.”
Boston Globe

“A kick….Reading [Cora’s]“journals,” as she reawakens, finds a friend and a paramour, and plots her escape, is a hoot.
New York Times

Delightful….Cora's machinations—sometimes wily, sometimes curious, always funny—and her lovable crustiness give this plenty of heart and humor.”
Publishers Weekly

“Larson's prose fits her central character like a perfectly-tailored coat: Cora lives and breathes in her pages from the beginning to the end. There is nothing patronizing or indulgent in Larson's depiction of this complex, difficult, emotionally deep personality. . . The reader believes in her, laughs with her, sees and touches her world, feels her love and her grief. Cora has a lesson for all of us: that it really is never too late to change things for the better. This book is simultaneously a love story, a whodunnit and a family saga. It is poignant, involving, moving and engrossing and, not least, highly enjoyable from beginning to end.”

“Tough-edged Cora Sledge, 82, is a reluctant resident of The Palisades nursing home—a prison [where] your only crime is you lived too long.” Her tell-all journal, recounting dramas at the home (thefts, love affairs, rivalries) and a tragedy buried in her past, is profane, harrowing, comical—and Cora’s voice is spot-on.”
AARP Magazine

“It’s clear that Larson cares about the craft of writing. She forges compelling characters and supports them with a thoughtful scaffolding of themes. Breaking Out of Bedlam is a good read: funny, sad and easy….The novel squeezes a remarkably full life and personality into a surprisingly fast pace.… Breaking Out of Bedlam shows, without being cloying, that life can take abrupt turns when least expected.
San Francisco Chronicle

“In Breaking Out of Bedlam, 82-year-old Cora Sledge is obese, depressed, diabetic and addicted to painkillers when her family decides to dump her at an old folks’ home. Driven in part by vengeance, Cora vows to sit down and write all that she’s ever wanted to say to them before she dies. The ensuing journal entries cover everything from a rash of thefts to her love affair with a silver-haired fox to a painful secret she’s been hiding all these years. More Gossip Girl than Golden Girls (though we smell a pilot with that idea!), Breaking Out of Bedlam is a fun—and inspiring—read that proves you’re never too old to really start living.”
Instinct magazine  [5 stars]

“Larson has drawn a winning character in Cora . . . She is rude, crude, arrogant, and totally without apology—and readers should admire her for it.”
The Hamilton Spectator (Canada)

“Heartwarming and funny with nary a slip into sentimentality.”
Kirkus Reviews

"Few women have kept me as worried and curious and awake at night as Cora Sledge, the ‘heroine’ of Leslie Larson's great new novel.  Her life is huge, and tragic, and comic, and stalwart, and her voice is astonishing. Read this novel to see redemption."
—Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon and A Million Nightingales

“Is death a tragedy or a triumph?  Is it a nightmare or a dark comedy?  Do we put our accounts in order, or do we exact our revenge?  Is there, even, a touch of grace?  Somehow, Leslie Larson manages to explore all these possibilities in this powerful novel.”
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Hummingbird’s Daughter

“Meet pill-popping, slovenly, sharp-tongued Cora Sledge, all three-hundred pounds and eighty-two years of her. Leslie Larson gives us high hilarity and deep tenderness, allowing neither to rob the other. In Cora Sledge, she gives us a woman who is brave enough to look closely at the sum of all her years and to learn new love from old sorrows.”
—Kate Maloy, author of Every Last Cuckoo

“In a voice brimming with wit, energy, and originality, and with a keen eye and a pitch-perfect ear for language, Leslie Larson delivers us a protagonist like no other. Through Cora Sledge’s unique perspective, we ache and laugh along with her until the very last page, and she reminds us that longing and acceptance are at the very core of the human condition no matter what our age or circumstance.”
—Alex Espinoza, author of Stillwater Saints

“Leslie Larson has created an original in Cora Sledge.  Overweight with secrets, tough as she is ill, Cora is about to spill the beans on her ill-mannered, kidnapping children in a journal given to her by a grandchild.  Instead, what she discovers in this moving and funny novel about assisted living is, to her astonishment, a primer on love.”
—Helena María Viramontes. author of Their Dogs Came with Them


Buy Slipstream


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Praise for Slipstream:

“Larson is a deft storyteller. Her prose is fast-paced and edgy, racing toward the book's conclusion
like a 747 barreling down a runway. Her characters are well-drawn . . . and her portrayal of Los Angeles is palpably noirish and gritty.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Impressively rich, darkly plotted, and seriously frightening. . . . Best of all is the way Larson uses LAX to capture the despair and sadness of a city like Los Angeles.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Larson is a master of details, coloring in her precise and increasingly jittery scene with tight specificity.”
—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“Larson’s exquisitely calibrated prose makes clear she knows these people to their bones.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“Larson’s exciting, touching, and impressive debut thriller .  . . makes you want to know more. . .  . Captures the dark side of a glittering city like Los Angeles.”
—Chicago Tribune

“This remarkably accomplished first novel by California writer Leslie Larson looks at the intersection of the lives of five people who are ordinary but unforgettable. . . . An extremely good read.”
Toronto Sun

“An accomplished first novel.”
—People Magazine

“A tour-de-force.”
—Le Figaro

“A gripping debut that successfully builds upon post-9/11 fears while feverishly mining the depths of human desire.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Owing as much to Sandra Cisneros as to T. Jefferson Parker, Larson spins a classic noir tale in contemporary L.A. . . . Expect big things from this exciting new find.”

“A deft debut. . . . From the opening chapters, Larson conveys a sense of emotional turbulence and impending doom.”

“Every one of these characters’ lives is complex and richly drawn. . . . A gently paced thriller that lingers over the human side, then builds toward the inevitable climax, but not until every sub-strand is tucked in. It’s a rich and wonderful novel.”
Books to Watch Out For

“The people of Slipstream seems so real; their startling faults and cravings, hopes and dreams, and carefully thought out destinies make the book impossible to put down.”

“Captures with extraordinary vividness the ubiquitous anxieties of life in post-9/11 America.”
—Lillian Faderman, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

“Slipstream is a genuinely startling novel that caught me up in the lives of people used to being looked past, over, or beyond. Larson’s people are alive on the page, and they pulled me along with them as things got scarier and scarier until… Well, you have to read the book to learn that—and trust me, it will be worth it.”
—Dorothy Allison

“Leslie Larson is a writer of tales that are hilarious and heart-breaking at once—no easy feat, but the mark of great storytelling. She writes with an intimate eye and heart about citizens so familiar to the American landscape, we don't even see them. A story told while we are living in the ‘United States of Fear,’ Slipstream is about the search for the safety of home. Larson has honored the lives of the working-class by telling their version of our times.”
—Sandra Cisneros

"As Leslie Larson reminds us in this brilliant novel, everyone in L.A. is just three degrees of separation from the next small apocalypse."
—Mike Davis

"This exceptional first novel is pitch perfect in its authentic, insightful portrayals of fatefully intersecting lives amid the edgy anxiety of our post 9-11 world.  The writing is pure pleasure—as clean and clear as glass."  
—Katherine V. Forrest

“Leslie Larson's Slipstream tracks five protagonists on collision course, but for all its deft plotting and effective suspense, it's most memorable for its portraits of characters negotiating the difference between just getting by and moving forward. Larson renders beautifully a lower middle class California that's being squeezed out of a place to live: that forgotten group consigned to stained carpets and banged-up walls, gouged floors and the smell of other people's lives, and houses that are "more like dentist's offices, banquet rooms, tool sheds." Slipstream provides an intricate and moving sense of the way in which such characters' lives go wrong, and the persistence of their resolve to turn them around.”
—Jim Shepard

"Leslie Larson may just have appeared in the world of trade publishing, but she brings with her a formidable set of tools. She writes an observant, easy-moving, sea-level prose, honest to the core, and this instrument allows her to slip out of the head of one character and move directly into the head of another, with no time off for editorializing or point-scoring. It takes enormous discipline to write this way, as well as an unshakable confidence in one's capacity fully to inhabit one's characters—here, a raffish, scrabbling, aimless set of losers and the unhappy, yearning characters attached to them, each brought vividly into wriggling, yammering life by Ms. Larson's unerring talent. Slipstream demands to be read from start to finish, if at all possible in one long, shivering gulp."
—Peter Straub

“In Leslie Larson's novel Slipstream, the question is not why we leave but that we leave again and again, each time set against the incredible drama of our surreal lives. She inhabits her sharp, incisive, smart novel with lives we know and know of, sometimes too closely, lives that begin and begin again and seem to end and end again. Departures and arrivals amidst the terror of our daily chaos.”
—Lois-Ann Yamanaka

  © Leslie Larson, 2010. All writings and artwork on this website are the creation and copyrighted property of Leslie Larson and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.