Time’s Mouth

A Novel

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Book Description

Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize

From New York Times bestselling author Edan Lepucki comes an enthralling saga about family secrets that grow more powerful with time, set against the magical, dangerous landscape of California

Ursa possesses a very special gift. She can travel through memory and revisit her past. After she flees her hometown for the counterculture glory of 1950’s California, the intoxicating potential of her unique ability eventually draws a group of women into her orbit and into a ramshackle Victorian mansion in the woods outside Santa Cruz. Yet Ursa’s powers come with a cost. Soon this cultish community of sisterhood takes an ominous turn, prompting her son, Ray, and his pregnant lover, Cherry, to flee their home for Los Angeles and reinvent themselves far from Ursa’s insidious influence. But escaping their past won’t be so easy. A series of mysterious events forces Cherry to abandon their baby, leaving Ray to raise Opal alone.

Now a teenager and still heartbroken over the abandonment of the mother she never knew, Opal must journey into her own past to reveal the generations of secrets that gave rise to the shimmering source of her family’s painful legacy.

From the forests of Santa Cruz, to the 1980s glam of Melrose Avenue to a solitary mansion among the oil derricks off La Cienega Boulevard, and brimming with the double-edged capacity of memory to both heal and harm, Time’s Mouth is a poignant and evocative excavation of the bonds that bind families together.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize
Time, A Best Book of the Summer
, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
Science Friday, A Best Book of the Year
Literary Hub, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
The Millions
, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
Library Journal, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"Tactile and immediate . . . Lepucki remains attuned to the deep yearning and loss associated with parenthood and childhood." —Cree LaFavour, The New York Times Book Review

Wildly imaginative . . . An emotionally visceral, page-turning saga exploring motherhood, abandonment, self-invention, intergenerational trauma, cult worship, somatic therapy, and, most of all, the poignancy that even reconjured memories are forever lost once the present vanishes." —Jessica Zack, San Francisco Chronicle

"A time-travel story that feels shatteringly real . . . It's both gripping and moving, and promises at least one burst of cathartic tears." —Lily Meyer, NPR

"An immersive, unique novel." —The Boston Globe

"It is a story of motherhood and disjunction, of self-making and villainy, of a remarkable power depicted and deployed on an intimate scale . . . The novel is a page-turning exploration of the intergenerational trauma of this very specific family with its unique gift, and the ways each new generation tries to heal itself . . . One of California’s most anticipated books of the summer." —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

"Investigating the past on a metaphysical scale, Lepucki calls into question the gifts inherited from previous generations, the durability of family attachments, and the love lost or found between children and mothers." —Lou Fancher, East Bay Express

"Edan Lepucki's novel is an intergenerational tale about an inherited gifts that begins to look like a curse." —Emma Alpern, New York Magazine

"Rich and riveting." —People, Book of the Week

"An Edan Lepucki novel—any Edan Lepucki novel—is a treat. But this one involves a Californian woman who can time-travel through her own memories . . . I was sold on 'time-travel,' how about you?" —Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle

"An intensely imagined work that takes a number of risks with genre, character, and emotional tone." —Anita Felicelli, Alta

"Spanning decades and tracking the evolution of, and recovery from, intergenerational trauma, Time’s Mouth is a dreamy, heartfelt tearjerker." —Arianna Rebolini, Bustle

"This moving portrait of three generations of a California family comes with a twist that literally kicks it into another dimension: Some characters can time-travel to earlier parts of their lives. Slipping these uncanny episodes seamlessly into a vivid portrait of life at a woodland women’s commune in the ’70s, and in a single-parent household in the ’90s, Lepucki traces the consequences of damaged mothering but gifts her characters—and readers—a deeply satisfying emotional finale." —Oprah Daily

"A gripping intergenerational family saga with a slight fantastical bent, this asks big questions about motherhood, time, and how we can ever appreciate right now while it’s still here." —theSkimm

"A beautifully original piece of fiction . . . California in the second half of the 20th century stands out as a distinctive character, the perfect backdrop for a truly far-out tale. Quite distinct from other books on the shelf, a fabulous new release." —Page Berger, Darien Neighbors Magazine

"How does Time’s Mouth succeed? First, Lepucki’s prose is brisk and flows as fluidly as time itself. Second, she allows us to have ambivalent feelings about the time travel and describes those tunneling episodes with dispassion. Third, even as Time extends the narrative to Y2K and as the potential for some sort of generational confrontation seems pending, Lepucki keeps her intentions guarded." —Ron Slate, On the Seawall

"Time's Mouth is a compelling story of family, loyalty, hurt and healing . . . [H]er narrative is tightly constructed, her language is lovely, and the tensions are controlled and palpable. This is a shimmering novel, tackling some tricky questions about loneliness and self, power and love, memory and, of course, time." —Sarah Rachel Egelman, Bookreporter.com

"For fans of Matrix and The Girls, Time’s Mouth is a mesmerizing and confident novel about power, desire, and the depths of our bonds." —Literary Hub, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"Lepucki displays a real talent for giving readers a new perspective—whether on the passions of motherhood in particular, or on the nature of parenthood in general—and emphasizes the power of real love (and a bit of New Agey therapy) to heal." —Arlene McKanic, BookPage

"Lepucki’s latest novel is, in a word, a trip, narrated by Time itself . . . Lepucki is known for combining domestic realism with a magical worldview and/or SF–adjacent elements (here, there’s an isolation chamber in a box in the garage inspired by Reich’s Orgone Accumulator) and for evoking California in all its real, surreal, and unreal glory. She does it again. This emotionally intense, wildly imaginative novel is both down-to-earth and out-to-lunch. One of a kind." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Lepucki's prose is tactile, sensual, nimble—precise and full of pleasures. Time’s Mouth is an engrossing novel and a sprawling work of imagination." —Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of Interior Chinatown

"Stunningly original and deeply human, Time’s Mouth is one of those books that’s impossible not to love. It’s a little magical, a little emotional, but most of all a meditation on loss and longing and the search for meaning in an inexplicable universe. I’m an Edan Lepucki fan, and this is her best book yet.” —Janelle Brown, author of I’ll Be You

"Edan Lepucki's new novel is an astonishing achievement. This sweeping intergenerational saga has California cults and communes, mystics and astral travel, but it's also a profound and moving exploration of family—the way it both wounds and heals us, the ways we both long for and run from its embrace. Written in crystalline prose that is as wise as it is witty, Time’s Mouth left me breathless with admiration." —Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk

“Edan Lepucki's engrossing third novel tackles so much about the physical and psychic terrain of California, with its hippies and hipsters, its oil derricks and redwoods. It’s a beautiful book about a much-mythologized place, but its heart lives much closer to home: in the real and complex bond between parent and child.” —Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind