Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ghosts and monsters

In Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton, the main character, Willie Upton, sets herself on a quest through her family's history, which is also her small town's history. The book mingles Willie's story of coming home to her small town with different pieces of (fictionalized) historical evidence -- letters, first-person narratives, old books. At the same time, the town is dealing with the surprising sense of loss after its lake's monster dies.

Sounds complicated? It all works amazingly well, thanks to Groff's writing. I loved Willie Upton, despite finding her entirely unsympathetic at points, and I'm a sucker for quirky small town folks (Gilmore Girls or Haven Kimmel, anyone?). But Groff's story is never predictable or expected -- the characters and their histories are much too real and developed for that. For various reasons, it took me a while to read this book, but I found myself thinking of the characters often when I wasn't reading it. I almost wish there was a sequel -- I'd love to see where their lives go next.


tbonegrl said...

Just wanted to say I'm catching up with your blog and love it. Have you read fair and tender ladies yet? I higly recommend it. It's entirely epistulatory. Normally not my thing but I really enjoyed it. That and The thirteenth Tale.

Charlie said...

I've not heard of the first one you mentioned -- I'll have to check that out. I tried The Thirteenth Tale, but the incest freaked me out and I had the story figured out quickly enough that I gave up on it. I've heard so many raves about it, though.