"Cloud Cuckoo Land"

introduction for a reading by fiction writer Lisa Borders

Tahneer Oksman, Development Assistant at the The Kelly Writers House
May 2, 2002

Lisa Borders' first book, Cloud Cuckoo Land, is a compelling account that traces the life of Miriam Ortiz from her less-than-perfect childhood in Prairie Rose, Texas to her days as an up-and-coming musical sensation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The book carefully and engagingly traces everything from the day-to-day experiences of a runaway teen living on the streets to the pop-slash-punk-slash-folk-slash-alterna-rock music scene alive behind the doors of Philadelphia bars and clubs in the heart of the 1980s.

What makes this debut novel a real gem is the crafty and beautiful mix of poetic language, humanly flawed characters and the underlying message of a hope that flows through the veins of even the deepest emotional scars. The character of Loretta, a bartending tough woman whom Miri meets in Philadelphia, says it best when she describes the tattoo of a snake on her arm.

"Why did you want a snake?" Miri asks her. Loretta explains, "Jay-that was my boyfriend's name-knew how scared I was [of snakes]. So when he got mad at me, he gave me a snake I couldn't escape… It's like a scar, I guess, a scar that you become proud of. I can't imagine not having this old snake with me now."

Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book that leaves you with an inescapable image of the many scars we wear-of places and of people left behind-and the importance of those we come to depend on in the present and who love us, scars and all.