Tara Ison  

Tara Ison

Chicago Tribune names Reeling Through Life "Editors Choice"

"an innovative blend of film criticism and literary memoir in this absorbing collection of 10 essays.... The result is powerfully universal, and the author's writing is at once intellectually razor-sharp and poetic as she delves into the most complex of emotions.... These essays, combining cultural criticism with deeply personal reflections on love, religion, family, and the nature of art, offer brilliant analysis and food for thought for film aficionados and casual fans alike." - Publishers Weekly

"Ison is keenly aware of how cinema’s massive power molds us, teaches how to love, to drink, and to die. Confessional, honest, and humorous, Reeling through Life is an engrossing memoir and a guide to essential film." - Booklist

“Tara Ison’s passion for the movies shines in every essay in Reeling Through Life, as she gleans life lessons from the movies she’s fallen in love with. By turns hilarious, poignant, and outrageous; always profound and beautifully written.” — Hallie Ephron, Night Night, Sleep tight


“Essential and completely identifiable reading for any film lover. Tara Ison writes about movies and life the way Stephen King can write about horror — with an encyclopedic knowledge of both.” — David Koepp, screenwriter, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man


“Tara Ison’s Reeling Through Life is unforgettable – a must-read for anyone who loves movies. In an exquisite blend of memoir, criticism, and cultural observation, this luminous collection engages readers’ hearts, minds, and intellect the way that only the best movies – and the best storytellers – can. Ison masterfully showcases how movies shape and guide us; how they move and empower and embolden us; how they help us learn how to be, above all, human.” — Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World


“Like a great film retrospective, Ison’s gorgeous essays flicker and dazzle with nostalgia; her shimmering prose and astute, provocative insights surprise and delight. But it’s in her courage to rack focus, turning her personal life inside-out, that she elevates this book into a profoundly moving, revelatory

whole.” — Neil Landau, 101 Things I Learned in Film School


“In Reeling Through Life, Tara Ison fashions a marvelous alchemy, giving cinematic sweep to the challenges in her life — some of them recognizable and very funny, some of them not and damned hard — while finding instructive nuggets in an array of iconic films to help make sense of the daily stuff we’d like to leave, if only we could, on the cutting room floor. The result is a brave yet buoyant personal story, told with grace and wit and not a hint of self-pity.– Douglas Bauer, What Happens Next?: Matters of Life and Death, Winner of the 2014 PEN/New England Book Award for NonFiction


“Tara Ison’s Reeling Through Life is the most enjoyable, intelligent, sharp-eyed, and intensely personal account I’ve ever read of how movies help to make us who we are. It’s as stirring as Norma Rae’s union sign, as seductive as Mrs. Robinson’s leopard-skin coat.” — Matthew Goodman, Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making

Race Around the World


"It's a sheer joy to stay in the company of Ison's voice." - Karen Russell

"Here is a young woman at the end of her leash, the end of her youth, the edge of her art, confronting the many true colors of her life in this beautiful and dangerous season. Tara Ison's Rockaway is a stirring, fresh look at a tough passage.” —Ron Carlson, Return to Oak Pines

"Tara Ison's novel Rockaway is an illuminating inquiry into the nature of love, the meaning of art, the power of faith and family, and how grace is discovered in the most unexpected places - a stunning, modern echo of Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse, with a uniquely brilliant voice." - Emily RappThe Still Point of the Turning World


"Tara Ison is one of the premiere stylists of her generation, and Rockaway is pretty much perfect — a meditation on art, aloneness, ambition, love, religion, and the unknowable and unquenchable thirst that is human desire.  Just start reading.  You won't stop." - Charles Bock, Beautiful Children


“Written in language that is utterly liquid, Rockaway inhabits the poetry of a woman fiercely searching for identity. Here, we find an illuminating meditation on the art of being, with the true revelation suggesting that perhaps we were never lost at all. A triumphant reclamation of the soul.” —Ilie Ruby, The Salt God's Daughter


Rockaway is a novel that embraces everything: love, art, friendship, faith, and the mystery of why we create the lives we do, with prose that is breathtaking, clear, and elegant. Sarah and Marty and Emily are depicted with honesty that is utterly riveting. This is a beautiful gem of a book." —Karen E. Bender, A Town of Empty Rooms

"A tale of intoxicating love that turns toxic...  Readers who like their sunniness with a side of bitter will appreciate Ison's portrayal of love's power to bring out the worst in us." 

The Chicago Tribune

"The List is both wise and wicked about love: why it lasts or doesn't, and what's to be done about it.  Tara Ison limns her characters' choices with dark precision and wit." Meg Wolitzer, The Position and The Wife

"The List is visceral, honest, and intensely readable; Ison builds two complex, memorable characters, and then embraces their layers and contradictions, both alone and together." Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures

"The List is one fast-paced, word-drunk, film-obsessed, side-splitting roller-coaster:  a screwball comedy, an anti-romance romance, the quintessential LA novel. Ison is some kind of genius." Brad Kessler, Birds in Fall

For anyone who has ever broken up with someone...a smart, sophisticated, and darkly comic novel about a dysfunctional couple who make a list of 10 things to do before they break up.

Isabel is finishing medical school and destined to become a brilliant heart surgeon. Al is a video store clerk, a one-hit-wonder director whose first and only film became a cult classic. They have a sisyphean relationship - endlessly coming together and breaking up until they decide to make a list of 10 things they want to do together before they really break up. But after a few perfect dates - clams on the Santa Monica Pier, sleeping under the stars on the roof of a Sunset Boulevard hotel - the list takes a dark turn, and their plan spirals out of control, until they realize they would rather destroy each other than let go....


Now available as an ebook on all formats!

"A fascinating and wonderfully evocative first novel about life on Alcatraz - seen through the eyes of a little girl growing up in the 1950s.  A compelling story, richly evoking a time and place." Kirkus Reviews

"Disturbing, dark, and original.  A stunning first novel." Feminist Bookstore News
"This is a sad, often beautiful novel...Ison renders the slow disintegration of a once-vital woman, and its effect on her daughter, with perfect heartbreaking despair...  A provocative story."  The Boston Book Review
"Ison has a gift...the fearsome plight of Olivia, who narrates much of the novel, is never simplified.  It's through her radiant consciousness that Ison's novel achieves a natural, basic morality."  Publisher's Weekly

"What makes A Child out of Alcatraz particularly memorable is its unique venue...the author paints a searing portrait of an American family that might have been typical had fate and history not intervened."
- Glamour

To Purchase an Inscribed Copy from the Author - email info@taraison.com




Tara Ison Bio Page
Tara Ison Novels
Tara Ison Short Fiction and Non Fiction


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