Groff, Lauren 1978-
Groff, Lauren 1978-
Awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; winner of various residencies and residency fellowships from organizations, including Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.
The Monsters of Templeton: A Novel, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2008.
Work published in anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories 2007, edited by Stephen King and Heidi Pitlor, Houghton Mifflin, 2007; Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson, Pushcart Press, 2007; and Best New American Voices 2008, edited by John Kulka and Natalie Danford, Harvest Books, 2007.
Contributor to various journals, including Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Point.
Writer Lauren Groff was born in 1978, in Cooperstown, New York. She graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, then continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a master of fine arts degree in fiction. Groff has written a number of short fiction works that have appeared in various literary journals, including the Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Point. Her work has also been published in several anthologies, including Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008. Groff was a recipient of the Axton Fellowship in Fiction from the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, and has received residency fellowships from Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center several times. In 2008, Groff's first book, The Monsters of Templeton: A Novel, was published by Hyperion.
The Monsters of Templeton is set in Templeton, New York, a stand-in for Groff's hometown, Cooperstown. Although Groff begins her story by mentioning a fifty-foot-long monster lying dead in a lake in Templeton, the book is actually about Wilhelmina "Willie" Upton, a graduate student at Stanford University, who, at twenty-eight years old discovers she is pregnant with her archeology professor's child. The man is married, and in a fit of some sort, Willie attempted to run over his wife, the dean of students at Stanford, with a bush plane. This accounts for Willie's hasty retreat to her hometown of Templeton, where the reader discovers that Willie comes by her eccentricities naturally. Her mother is a born-again Christian and former hippie having an affair with a clergyman. While she supposedly knows who Willie's father is, she has never been willing to share this information with anyone, not even Willie. However, the man apparently still lives in Templeton. Willie's mother claims revealing his identity would just create more awkwardness, never considering how Willie feels passing men on the street, not knowing which of them might have fathered her. Upon returning to Templeton, Willie struggles with the mystery of her birth, knowing only that her father is a Temple—of the family for whom the town was named.
The history of Cooperstown is inextricably linked with that of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, whose father, Judge William Cooper, founded the town and gave it its name. Fenimore Cooper set much of his writing in the region, and so Groff borrows heavily from his works in her own tale, linking them inextricably through names such as Old Man Marmaduke and Chingachgook. These individuals pepper Willie's fictional family tree, creating an even more intricate mystery. Charles Taylor, in the New York Times Book Review, found many of Groff's literary tricks to be wearisome. However, he ultimately praised the book, and declared that "in the end, all of Groff's parodies and pastiches cannot disguise that she's written a very simple tale of homecoming and reconciliation. Her talent appears to be simpler and more openly emotional than she acknowledges." Yvonne Zipp, a contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, stated: "The whole find-your-real-dad scavenger hunt is a little contrived," but added that "Groff has concocted such a rich trove of source documents—portraits, old letters, journal entries, and reminiscences by characters lifted from Fenimore Cooper's writings—that readers will be too busy gleefully burrowing into the fictitious past she has created to mind." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that "readers will delight in Willie's sharp wit and Groff's creation of an entire world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Monsters of Templeton: A Novel, p. 27.
Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2008, Yvonne Zipp, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, Kate Ward, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2007, review of The Monsters of Templeton.
Library Journal, January 1, 2008, Beth E. Andersen, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 83.
Marie Claire, February 1, 2008, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 90.
National Post, February 23, 2008, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 12.
New York Times Book Review, February 18, 2008, Janet Maslin, "Bad Apples and Blue Eyes: Shaking Loose Secrets from the Family Tree," review of The Monsters of Templeton; April 13, 2008, Charles Taylor, "Are You My Father?," review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, November 26, 2007, review of The Monsters of Templeton, p. 27.
Fantasy Book Critic Web log,http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/ (February 6, 2008), review of The Monsters of Templeton.
Largehearted Boy Web log,http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/ (March 20, 2008), review of The Monsters of Templeton.
Lauren Groff Home Page,http://www.laurengroff.com (August 19, 2008).
Ploughshares,http://www.pshares.org/ (August 19, 2008), author contributor profile.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (March 3, 2008), Connie Ogle, review of The Monsters of Templeton.