Thursday, April 5, 2012, 8:00 am Pacific, 9:00 am Mountain, 10:00 am Central, 11:00 am EST, 12:00 pm Atlantic, 5:00 pm Zurich, 6:00 pm Istanbul, Dubai 8:00 pm
Breaking Out of Bedlam: You're Never Too Old To Really Start Living
Breaking Out of Bedlam is the story of Cora Sledge, an 82-year-old widow, who is living on junk food, pills, and cigarettes. When her kids force her into an assisted living facility, Cora decides that truth is the best revenge, and begins to write a tell-all journal that reveals the secret she has guarded since her teens. In entries that are profane, profound, and wildly hilarious, she chronicles both her past and the day-to-day dramas that envelop her as she tries to escape her new “home.”
New York Times called Breaking Out of Bedlam, “A kick.” Publishers Weekly said, “Delightful…Plenty of heart and humor.” And the Boston Globe called it, “A funny, touching novel.” Breaking Out of Bedlam is an AARP Hot Pick and a finalist for France’s Chronos Prize in Literature, awarded by the National Foundation of Gerontology.
Leslie will read from her novel, answer your questions, and talk about the process of writing and publishing as well as the hazards of using family secrets as the basis for a novel. She will share her experiences working with groups that champion seniors’ rights.
Leslie Larson’s first novel, Slipstream, was a BookSense Notable Book, a Target Breakout Book, winner of the Astraea Award for Fiction, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel, Breaking Out of Bedlam, was published in 2010. Her work has appeared in Faultline, the East Bay Express, More magazine, Writer magazine, and the Women's Review of Books, among other publications. She worked as a senior writer at the University of California Press for many years and has taught creative writing workshops across the country. She lives in Berkeley and is finishing her third novel. To learn more, please visit www.leslielarson.com.
"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
“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
“Larson has created an original in Cora Sledge. 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
“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…Plenty of heart and humor.”
“Larson masterfully interweaves themes with the story: of water and weightlessness; of stability and rocks; of addiction, love and lying; and of waking up to new consciousness. ….It’s clear that she cares about the craft of writing on top of the story; she forges compelling characters and supports them with a thoughtful scaffolding of themes….A good read: funny, sad and easy.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“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. She’s definitely the heroine, not just the narrator, of Larson’s funny, touching novel. 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.”
“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.”
“Larson has drawn a winning character in Cora . . . a Confederate Stone Angel, with our Hagar as template. Like Hagar, she is rude, crude, arrogant, and totally without apology—and readers should admire her for it.”
The Hamilton Spectator (Canada)
“Breaking out of Bedlam is a fun—and inspiring—read that proves you’re never too old to really start living.”
“With this irreverent, exhilarating book, Leslie Larson proves that life doesn’t have to be over at 80…. Larson paints a gallery of hilarious portraits alongside her savagely tender heroine. She tackles her subject head-on, with no taboos, where others might be tempted to use kid gloves. Cora is coarse, she meddles in things that are none of her business, and she can be downright vulgar – but her frankness is admirable….She shouts her desire for affection and sex. And why not? If old age is a shipwreck, Cora is most certainly not on board.”
“A moving—and often very funny—novel. . . .With audacity, finesse and humor, through the confessions of this incorrigible and very engaging old woman, [Larson] offers us a rare glimpse into a reality that affects us all. And – despite the heaviness of the subject – teaches us a lot about optimism and humanity.”
A lovely coming of age story, Breaking Out of Bedlam gives true meaning to the word "youth." It’s all in the heart!
“Immerse yourself in the world of the smoking, wisecracking 82-year-old Cora Sledge. You’ll never forget her.”
Elle Top Ten (1/26/11)
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This is Dr. Sally Gelardin, with Careerwell Tele-Interviews. Leslie Larson’s first novel, Slipstream, was a BookSense Notable Book, a Target Breakout Book, winner of the Astraea Award for Fiction, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her second novel, Breaking Out of Bedlam, was published in 2010. Her work has appeared in Faultline, the East Bay Express, More magazine, Writer magazine, and the Women's Review of Books, among other publications. She worked as a senior writer at the University of California Press for many years and has taught creative writing workshops across the country. She lives in Berkeley and is finishing her third novel. Welcome Leslie!
- How did you come to write Breaking Out of Bedlam?
- What is the theme of this book?
- What do we learn about death from Cora Sledge, the protagonist?
- How did you become an author in the first place?
- Why do you think you won so many book awards?
- What other careers have you had?
- What other books have you written?
- Is there a common theme in your books?
- Do you have plans to write another book? If so, could you give us a preview of what it is about?
- Do you have any suggestions for prospective authors?