The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka, by Cole Alpaugh
The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka (288 pages), is the second work of fiction by author, photographer and journalist Cole Alpaugh.
The Turtle-Girl was a finalist in both the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards.
Alpaugh’s first book, The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, set in a ragtag traveling circus, was a runaway success, garnering eleven five-star reviews on WorldCat.
“The book is playful and comic in its creation of … misunderstandings and coincidences.
As their stories unfold and intersect, one comes to believe the island is indeed paradise, as Jesus plays a heroic role and the cannibal, Albino Paul, the shark god, and the birds play out a finale resounding with echoes of myth.”
“Dr. Doolittle meets LOST,” writes Michelle Hessling, Publisher, The Wayne Independent, “an interesting and colorful cast of zany characters on a crash course with fate.”
“A veritable feast for lovers of playfully absurd fiction,” writes Josh McAuliffe of The Scranton Times-Tribune.
“Lyrical and yet wonderfully warped … A highly entertaining read,” says Hua Lin, MLS, Los Angeles Public Library.
The island of East Pukapuka lies in the path of a tsunami that will kill everyone but Butter, a little girl more worried about the lives of the injured animals she cares for than her own. Butter is rescued by a Loggerhead sea turtle who carries her away on his back. As she and her exhausted savior begin to sink, the girl is plucked out of the sea by Jesus Dobby, the boozy owner of a salvage boat who is thrilled, at first, to have found a genuine “turtle-girl” hybrid.
Downhill racer Dante Wheeler “dies” in a terrible skiing accident and revives in a twilight state, having lost all memories of his former life. When he heals enough to leave the rehab facility, Dante heads to Polynesia, where he has found a home in his dreams. There he encounters Ophelia, a beautiful blond policewoman who reluctantly agrees to transport him to East Pukapuka.
Jope and Ratu, a pair of bumbling pirates, steal a vessel laden with cocaine. They are hotly pursued by the drug-runners’ hit man Albino Paul, the descendent of cannibals, whose goal is to reclaim his heritage.
As in Alpaugh’s beloved first novel, The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, fate pokes its fickle finger in the lives of these hapless souls with about as much clear intention as a three-year-old in a sandbox. Even the gods are incompetent. Alpaugh’s world offers no lessons in morality. His characters are fatally flawed, hilarious, and heartbreakingly human.
Says Alpaugh, “As a journalist, I spent time on various islands. Some visits were for travel stories, while others were for armed conflicts. My wife and I have visited and picked our own special Pacific island to move to when my youngest is off to college. It’s 3500 miles north of the fictional East Pukapuka, but the current residents share the same spirit as my characters. Dante Wheeler, the ski racer character, is loosely based on some great friends and former teammates. As I anxiously watch my racing daughters navigate icy courses, I am very aware that none of us is any match for what lurks in the shadows.”
Cole Alpaugh began his newspaper career in the early ’80s at a daily paper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He has won national awards working for papers in Massachusetts and Central New Jersey. While writing for two Manhattan-based news agencies he covered conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and guerrilla raids conducted out of the refugee camps along the Thai/Cambodia boarder. His articles have appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole’s first novel, The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011. Coming soon from Coffeetown: Cole’s third novel, The Spy’s Little Zonbi. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania. Click here to find Cole online.
The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka is available at select bookstores and online at Amazon and BN.com. Distributed by Aftershocks Media (firstname.lastname@example.org/800.950.6663), the 5×8 trade paperback can be ordered by stores and libraries through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Partners/West, Midwest Library Service, and Todd Communications. The eBook can be purchased on Kindle and in other editions on Smashwords and Google eBooks.
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