Monday, March 10, 2008

Monster Magic

Is it enough to say I enjoyed Lauren Groff's first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, for personal reasons too complex to reveal? Probably not. So, then to facts:

My daughter called me last week and insisted that I read this book telling me that she had seen us in it, she had seen me, and her excitement level was such that I picked it up for my weekend reading. From the very first page, before the story even began, I found my own words looking back in print at me. How facts obscure truth and fiction frees it, how layers of meaning fall from language for each succeeding generation to find and lose and loose to find again, how people are deeper and cleaner and meaner and both less and more pure than they appear on the surface.

No, I am not the aging hippy mother who fried her mind on drugs then found religion. I am not the brilliant, golden-girl who fell and returned home in disgrace with a tiny one ill-conceived within. Neither am I any of the monstrous forebears this fallen heroine seeks out in her family geneology, or the impossible poignant monster pulled from the lake. I am the writer who sees the dance of words spinning out a story both cunningly crafted and painfully sweet.

This is a writer's book and I hope it will do a magic thing for non-writers--take them into a writer's mind with all its ghosts and voices and richly imagined characters, and let them see for themselves what it is to create a living thing--a story richly told.

There are few writers I would like to meet. Ms. Groff, you are one.

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