Discovering Lauren Groff
February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Lauren Groff. How can it be that she has published three books without coming to my attention before this? My interest in her new novel was piqued by the one-line description in a list of books to review, so after a very quick Google I put my name forward. A title like Arcadia, the sixties, a living-off-the-land commune – what’s not to like?
When the local libraries stock the previous books of authors I’m reviewing, something that happens distressingly infrequently, I like to read the back catalogue in advance, so I’ve been enjoying Groff’s work in one long burst. Her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers back in 2008. It’s a seemingly ordinary story about a young PhD student returning in semi-disgrace to her hometown. What’s different about this novel is that the character Willie Upton is not just using the parochial and the provincial as a backdrop against which she, the newly urbanised sophisticate (as she seems to the people of Templeton) can dazzle. It’s a satisfying story, warmly told.
Delicate Edible Birds is even more exquisite. Remember the days when short story collections were a pleasure to read, and not just something to be reached for with a sigh, out of duty? The days when you didn’t get to the end of a story and wonder why both you and the author had even bothered? The stories in this collection are satisfying, rich, acutely observed.