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A Mouthful of Air [Paperback]

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Item description for A Mouthful of Air by Amy Koppelman...

To the outside world Julie Davis has it all---wealth, a doting husband, an apartment on the Upper West Side, and an adorable new baby boy. But underneath the perfect exterior, she is paralyzed by an over-whelming sense of shame and inadequacy.

A Mouthful of Air begins a few weeks after Julie's suicide attempt and on the eve of her son's first birthday. Desperate to lead a "normal" life, Julie tries to be thankful for the good things, but her emotional demons persist. In the midst of her struggle, she discovers that she is pregnant for a second time, and is forced to come off the medication that has given her the buoyancy to survive.

Through sparse, elegant prose, Amy Koppelman's brutally honest portrayal of family and self shows the reader that real problems are indiscriminate of money or birthright. A Mouthful of Air brings to light the complexity and fragility of the human psyche.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.8" Width: 4.9" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 15, 2004
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561893  
ISBN13  9781931561891  

Availability  0 units.

More About Amy Koppelman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Amy Koppelman lives in New York City with her husband and two children. I Smile Back is her second novel.

Amy Koppelman currently resides in New York City New York, in the state of New York. Amy Koppelman was born in 1969.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary

Reviews - What do customers think about A Mouthful of Air?

I was blown away  Nov 8, 2006
I had no idea what this novel was going to be about, which is the best way to go in, isn't it? I was absolutely devastated and enthralled by Koppelman's beautiful writing. What a book. It has really stayed with me. A must read.
Poetic, understated, harrowing, brilliant  Jul 23, 2006
As soon as I discovered A Mouthful of Air online and read an excerpt, I thought, I have to get this book. I was especially drawn by the promise of sparse, elegant prose and its story of a young mother suffering from postpartum depression.

And as soon as I found the book, I could not stop reading it ~ started on Thursday night, put it down only to catch some sleep, woke up and read till I finished. I've read thousands of books and enjoyed many of them ~ but Amy Koppelman's brilliant, quiet, harrowingly transportive writing stands out over everything I've read in recent memory.

From the first page of the story, I'm immediately and vividly inside main character Julie Davis's mind, her emotions, actions, and memories ~ seeing, feeling, and thinking right along with her in a visceral way ~ which is astonishing because Koppelman uses such lean, uncluttered prose. I was totally in Julie Davis's head through the whole book, and can't stop reflecting back on her, her experiences, her despair. The fact that Koppelman accomplished this via the third-person is another testament to the power of her writing. It is poetry, anguish, simplicity, darkness, clarity, all interwoven.

I recommend A Mouthful of Air for library and book club discussion groups and will bring it to my own group when we meet in August. The story prompts discussion on so many levels. I've started making some notes of questions about the characters' inner and outer lives, and their possible futures. These questions intrigue me because I love unique fiction that rings this true to my spirit, and because the answers can apply to real people who are experiencing real suffering.

Note ~ partial spoiler ahead ~
In ending the book as she does, Koppelman shows integrity and courage as a human being and a creative artist. We live in such a sit-com, Hollywood-ending culture, many of us have gotten lulled into a superficial dead-zone emotionally ~ we want our books and movies to just have happy endings, to reassure us everything will be all right. We think "reality shows" are real life. And we also flock to the opposite extreme to ultra-violence in genre fiction, film, music....Anything to avoid facing the truths and mundanities of our own lives, I guess. That said, I do understand that the ending to this book might be too overwhelming for some readers.

I've tried reading other contemporary novels about various forms of mental illness but couldn't finish them ~ their sentimentalized renderings struck me as profoundly inauthentic. I always hold out hope for miracles and change. But I'm grateful for courageous and skilled writers like Amy Koppelman who are willing to write about darker outcomes ~ because in their stories, I find solace, strength, new empathy, and new ideas.
extraordinarily insightful view of post-suicidal depression in debut novel  Dec 12, 2005
Exquisitely driven by two narratives, one internal and the other chronological, Amy Koppelman's brilliant debut novel explores the devastating consequences of a failed suicide attempt by a bright, terribly insecure and depressed young woman. "A Mouthful of Air" is not for the weak-hearted. It is an unflinching description of survivor guilt, mental illness and personality disintegration. Koppelman's writing is lean, precise and wrenching; she permits us to have just enough understanding of her protagonist's torment to identify with her anguish, but not so much that we can predict what will occur next.

Julie Davis "is simply worn out from worry: who she loves, how she loves, if her love is good enough." This pervasive fear causes her to tremble even at the most common of encounters. A failed suicide attempt makes the innocuous greeting "How are you doing today?" into a question fraught with complicated possibilities. In truth, Julie is without hope. Her goal of literal self-eradication fails, and she is left with the burden of picking up the pieces of her life, trying to reassemble them into some kind of order and learning how to develop the skills to go through each day.

In fact, she is so immobilized by her illness that what appears to be a simple task (shopping, deciding what to wear, using an elevator) overwhelms her. We are painfully aware that she has been released from psychiatric hospitalization prematurely. Her "tiredness, overwhelming sorrow and endless sense of loss" are felt "both gradually and immediately." Despite being married to a loving, loyal man and having given birth to a sweet-natured boy, Julie senses her relationships are doomed. Permanently damaged by a flawed, conflicted and ambiguous relationship with her own father (Koppelman alludes to abuse but never directly states it), Julie's perceptions of relationships "insist that all of the people she loves, including her son, will leave her." This unceasing insecurity riddles her life with despair.

At its best, Koppelman's deft handling of Julie's internal voice captures a frightened woman's litany of unresolved problems. Her declarative sentences often read as questions, and her questions seldom produce responses that becalm her protagonist. Julie Davis never has a calm day, much less a peaceful hour. Despite considerable wealth (her husband's salary provides live-in help), Julie never has enough time to accomplish her quotidian tasks. As a result, her life unspools, and her ability to ascertain coherence fails.

Amy Koppelman reminds us that there may be palliatives for mental illness, but they are not cures. The ghosts of past trauma have resilient half-lives, and they haunt the core personality of those who are suffering. "A Mouthful of Air" is one of those unusual novels where suffering is neither redemptive or deserved but instructive and chastening. Koppelman is an author who has much to teach us.
An Amazing Emotional Experience  Jun 5, 2005
While I was reading Mouthful of Air...I cried, stopped to contemplate, felt my own emotions become entangled in Julie's thoughts, and kept turning back to the author's picture for a peek into her soul. Even my "hair" hurt when I read the ending!

There are so many "walking wounded" among us. Ms. Koppelman's honesty in relating Julie's story reminds us that everyone is vulnerable. No one is immune to suffering.

The author has a wonderful gift. She expresses herself in a clear and concise manner, and yet completes the picture for her reader. I could "see" Julie. I could "feel" Julie. The endng was brilliant in its clarity of thought.

Ms. Koppelman is a bright young woman who needs to continue to write.
Promising new writer  Jul 18, 2004
Ms. Koppelman's book left me with a chill down my spine. I think of this book often. I look forward to reading her next work of fiction.

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