Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Monsters of Templeton and the critically acclaimed short story collection Delicate Edible Birds. She has won Pushcart and PEN/O. Henry prizes, and has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. Her stories have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, One Story, and Ploughshares, and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2007 and 2010, and Best New American Voices 2008.

Groff's new novel is Arcadia.

Recently I asked her what she was reading.  Her reply:
I'm doing research for my next project, whatever it will end up being, and I am halfway through Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert. Research, for me, involves a lot of reading indirectly around the subject I'm interested in, to try to find a unique way into it, which seems sometimes approximately as useful as staring at the night sky to study the sun. I can't tell you my actual subject--talking too soon about a book is the surest way to kill it--but I can tell you that Bouvard et Pécuchet is not one of Flaubert's best novels. The book is a satirical picaresque, incomplete when it was posthumously published, and it is about a pair of blundering friends who come into some money and do absolutely nothing right with it. If the novel were shorter and tighter, it could have been wonderful. As is, Flaubert sounds the same note in every set piece in the book, which does get tiresome over the course of 347 pages. That said, it's Flaubert. The writing is impeccable.

I love reading poetry before bed for a variety of reasons: poems are mostly short and I have two wee boys and am exhausted by the end of the day; I like to imagine that the poets' brilliant, taut words are burrowing into my brain in my sleep; and, man, do some poems give you Technicolor dreams. I've been sleepily digesting The Complete Poems of Hart Crane for an embarrassingly long time, now.

I'm also just starting to read the ARC of a new graphic novel called Unterzakhn by Leela Corman, which will be out on April 3rd this year. It is the story of twin sisters in the Lower East Side in New York during the early 20th century, and, oh my gosh, I'm exactly three pages in and already the book is blowing me away. Leela is crazily talented, and I just discovered that she was a neighbor of mine, and now I'm mooning around here a bit starstruck, hoping to glimpse her in the neighborhood.
Visit Lauren Groff's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Monsters of Templeton.

The Page 69 Test: Arcadia.

--Marshal Zeringue