Synopses & Reviews
International Book Award, USA Book News Award and IPPY Award Winner!From Memorial Day until the student workers and tourists leave in the fall, the island community of Put-In-Bay, Ohio, thrives on alcohol, drugs, sexual experimentation, and any other means of forgetting responsibilities. To Brad Shepherd—recently forced out of his job as a junior high math teacher after the overdose death of a student—it’s exactly the kind of place he’s looking for.
Allured by the comfort and acceptance of the hedonistic atmosphere, Brad trades his academic responsibilities and sense of obligation for a bouncer’s flashlight and a pursuit of the endless summer. With Cinch Stevens, his new best friend and local drug dealer, at his side, Brad becomes lost in a haze of excess and instant gratification filled with romantic conquests, late-night excursions to special island hideaways, and a growing drug habit. Not even the hope from a blossoming relationship with Astrid, a bold and radiant Norwegian waitress, nor the mentoring from a mysterious mandolin player named Caldwell is enough to pull him out of his downward spiral. But as Labor Day approaches, the grim reality of his empty quest consumes him. With nowhere left to run or hide, Brad must accept that identity cannot be found or fabricated, but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.
A look at one man's belated coming of age that's equally funny, earnest, romantic, and lamenting, Doug Cooper’s debut novel explores the modern search for responsibility and identity, showing through the eyes of Brad Shepherd how sometimes, we can only come to understand who we truly are by becoming the person we’re not.
"A disillusioned young schoolteacher drops out of his profession to enjoy a summer fling while trying to find himself in Cooper's over-familiar debut novel. Brad Shepherd, 28, has been teaching junior high school math for five years in St. Louis, Mo., when one of his students, overdosing on Oxycontin, collapses and dies in his classroom. Shep, embittered after the school administration pressures him to quietly resign, defies his controlling mother by deciding to spend the summer in the touristy Ohio village of Put-in-Bay, located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Through a bartender friend, Haley, he meets the colorful party boy Cinch Stevens, a bouncer at Haley's bar, the Round House. Cinch gets Shep a job working alongside him, and also, as the local drug dealer, gets him involved with cocaine, initially as a user and eventually as a dealer. Few readers will be surprised by the feckless hero's subsequent downward trajectory, or that he finds romance with beautiful graduate student Astrid and a mentor in worldly Caldwell, a mandolin player and reputed Vietnam vet. Cooper writes serviceable prose but seldom finds anything to set this particular story of one man's path to maturity apart from countless other coming-of-age tales." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
DOUGLAS A. COOPER has traveled to more than twenty countries on five continents and has held jobs in service, teaching, and business. He now lives and writes in Las Vegas. Outside In
is his first novel.
A former secondary school math teacher trades his responsible life for one of instant gratification on the island community of Put-in-Bay, Ohio
From Memorial Day until students go back to school in the fall, the island community of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, is a place dedicated to hedonism: alcohol, drugs, sexual experimentation, and every other means of being led by one’s id rather than superego. To twenty-eight-year-old Brad Shepherd—recently forced out of his job as a high school math teacher after the accidental death of a student—it’s exactly the kind of place he’s looking for.
In short order, Brad trades his slide rule for a bouncer’s flashlight and his reliability for a growing cocaine habit. With his new friend Cinch at his side, Brad enters a world filled with romantic intrigue, midnight cliff-diving parties at the cove, keg rolling competitions, and drinking games at the local winery—and he begins to wonder why he ever spent so much time walking the straight and narrow path. But as the summer days begin to turn colder, Brad reaches a point of being nearly consumed by instant gratification and total excess. Soon it becomes harder and harder to avoid making a decision about where his life is going and just who he should listen to for advice: his parents, his new friends, or—at last—himself.
Earnestly funny, sagely romantic, and strangely elegiac, Douglas A. Cooper’s debut novel Outside In explores the modern search for identity, showing through the eyes of Brad Shepherd how sometimes we can only come to understand who we truly are by becoming the person we are not.
About the Author
Doug Cooper has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. He now lives in Las Vegas.