↠´ The Monsters of Templeton Å Download by ↠´ Lauren Groff I won t lie I m reluctant to give this book four starsbut, you see, I have to, because I DID get up early to read it and I did stay up until two a.
m on a weeknight Heck, if I m being honest, while I did not stay home specifically FOR finishing this book, it made what would have been a pretty crap day enjoyable.
But still, I m hesitant to recommend it I have this suspicion most of my friends wouldn t get through it It was, at different points, many things novice, tricky to follow, going, plot wise, in a million directions Sometiems I had to flip back to remember who the hell was who, and, above all, it was kind of unbelievablewell, truly unbelievable BUT, I didn t get it to be believable, I got it to be entertaining, and so it wasin the same way those Lifetime movies draw you in It s not real life there s an EDGE of real, and in a few years, this lady might really, really be something And, don t get me wrong it s not that she employed the weird tactic of having a real monster in her book I dug the monster, it was that she employed a lot of little faulty tactics to keep things chuggin the pictures of family members on each chapter s cover page which, I would flip back to look at, so it wasn t pointless, BUT, I did think, serveral times why do I keep looking These are just flea market photos this chick found at Alameda or something So, the tactic worked and didn t Hard to say, huh I also feel compelled to mention, I am and nearly always have been, a huge history dork Like, for instance, history tests weren t so much annoying to study for, but fun, because I like periods, dresses, goings ons, etc So it s quite possible this book might just be trash to someone who s not so dorky about the civil war and or community museums Becausethis was a little like walking through the Elizabeth Roszier gallery which is, ahem, the local community gallery in my home town in Missouri I also hated that Willie s name was something as unusual as Wilhilmina, and nobody said where here American, exhippie mom had yanked it from There were also parts that read like short stories I wrote when i was in middle school but, I couldn t write a four hundred page novel that makes someone get up early in the morning, and she did, so maybe I ought to shut up.
Oh, boo I m such a black and white kind of gal, it s hard for me to say that this book was good and awful, but that s all I can do It s quite an accomplishement, it is it was a fun read, interesting, but I would be lying if I said I found the chracters and or relationships feesible, or that I didn t spend a LOT of time with my brow furrowed thinking, really This many characters or THAT name seemed unworthy of some explaination It was quite an well woven story though It was, it was I mean, it all checked out like a good episode of Matlock, butit also was kind of like reading something self publisheda little pedantic, sort of overly ambitious for what I assume to be a first full length novelA little Crash topics in Calamity Physics good, butnot with out room for improvement To borrow this authors tactic, I am leaving a side By comparing to CTiCP I hope it is noted that this book is NOT as good as the latter Just has some similarities and flights of whimsy.
Oops, I forgot to add this to Currently Reading while I was reading it That is my fatal Goodreads flaw Anyway, I breezed through this book in a couple of days it is a very quick, smooth read, heavy on plotting, which keeps the pages turning However, I think its self seriousness undermines its credibility, oddly In the end, I found the book awfully pretentious The pretense in question Pretending to be serious literature The novel revolves around grad student gone wild Willie Upton, who has slunk back to her ancestral home, Templeton, disgraced and in shame Once at home she sets off on a geneaological quest to establish her own paternity And, oh yeah, on the day she arrives, a giant monster surfaces, dead, on the lake of her hometown Groff models Templeton on Cooperstown, NY, and appropriates many of James Feni Cooper s characters for her novel so all us one time English majors can geek out to our hearts delight first sign of a serious work of fiction, right Intertextuality The novel deals with the big themes family, history, the ghosts of the past, secrets, shame, what it means to be an adult, mortality, loss, etc Or at least it tries to.
The book is packaged and billed as serious literature, and it s clear that the author sees her work this way, too The writing is filled with purple adjectives and extreme hyperbole vis a vis the most mundane of emotions and events The novel wants to explore the meaningfulness of everyday life, and it relies heavily on bloated metaphors see the title to convey this Groff the author uses a lot of telescoping, as well too much, in fact to underscore the reach of history across time, and it is grating and begins to feel self conscious Every other word in this novel seems to be glory or glorious , and every chapter ends on a suitably haunting and lyrical note There are about seven hundred descriptions of Lake Glimmerglass, and these especially indicate the limits of Groff s reach I feel for the lady clearly there are only so many ways to describe a lake, right But here s the thing when your shit gets repetitive, find a new way or QUIT.
The narrative consists of multiple perspectives and voices, almost all of which I found totally unconvincing The Running Buds C mon At novel s end, when the resolution to the plot reveals itself to be highly anticlimactic, I looked back on the various narrative elements and couldn t help but feel that much of it was filler These aren t human beings populating the pages, but very convincing paper dolls Yawn.
My feeling is that this book offers up a lot of what much contemporary lit is missing fun It has a sexy premise, as well as, as I said, a plot centric narrative, and because it s written in an overly lyrical prose style, smart people can feel unembarrassed to read it Apparently, this is the new criterion for a starred Publishers Weekly review.
The author, a native of Cooperstown, NY has written a love tale to her town, renamed Templeton The name was a nom de place used by James Feni Cooper for the town in his book The Pioneers Wilhelmina Willie Upton has returned to town, pregnant, distraught, at a turning point in her life Her mother had kept from her the name of her father, substituting a fable that fit the era of her conception But Vi, her mother, is willing to offer hints, leaving it to Willie to apply her research skills to complete the task This quest provides the structure for the novel, as Willie peels back layer after layer of the town s history in search of her father The characters and stories she turns up cover centuries, from the time the first white man decided to make a town at this location to Willie s present day experiences The characters are often but not always interesting and surprising Groff offers a sufficient supply of the unexpected to keep the tale interesting and the story moving forward Lauren Groff image from Squarebooks.
comThe central image of the story is the monster of Templeton Of course the real monsters are some of the humans who lived there The monster serves as pretty much a purely literary device What lies hidden grows over time into something substantial Once a secret is exposed, new secrets take its place This is not a sci fi or horror story by any stretch, although there are occasional elements of the supernatural.
I enjoyed the book, although I did not love it There were too many characters to give than a few of them real life, and Groff spreads her attention widely Groff has been a short story writer and this book reflects that skill Like Louse Erdrich s Plague of Doves, it does sometimes seem as if the author was looking for a way to weave together a few disparate elements Overall, a nice read I believe she will write tighter books in future and I am looking forward to those EXTRA STUFF Links to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pages I finally abandoned this with only sixty pages to go Abandoned it without learning the answer to the central question the book asks who was my father Because I realised I just couldn t care And because I was unable to distinguish most of the many characters from each other despite spending 400 pages with them so it didn t matter who the father was Family trees are fascinating I love that programme Who do you think you are We d all like to know much about our ancestors To discover the long succession of complex twists of fate that enabled us to finally get born To find out who her father is Willie Upton, the narrator, will trace her family history back to the founding fathers of the town she was born in The novel begins with a great sentence The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the 50 foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass However, the only really significant purpose of this monster in the novel is to provide that eye catching first line There s a ghost which is equally dramatic as possibility and pointless as a device In fact, she throws in everything except the kitchen sink There s so much going on in this novel that it began to simply induce a feeling of exhaustion This was pure whimsy and over exuberance from the word go The premise of the entire novel is whimsical A mother tells her daughter she does know who her father is despite claiming throughout her life that she didn t but isn t going to tell her who it is she wants her daughter to research the conundrum What we then get are a series of preposterous documents, testaments, portraits a kind of dream succession of genealogical artefacts that explain every ancestor in his or her own words Groff here tries her hand at David Mitchell style ventriloquism and fails miserably All her characters, no matter what century or class or ethnicity they belong to speak in the same exuberant whimsical voice They soon begin to blur into each other Eventually I felt the whimsy employed was in large part to disguise the lack of artistry of this overly exuberant novel It felt like the novel a precocious twelve year old girl with too much mental energy might write I think this was too ambitious for a first novel It s motored by youthful exuberance rather than mental rigour I found myself wondering if she wasn t under the spell of Krauss and Foer and David Mitchell before writing this They were all the rage back then I got the sense of a young writer imitating these writers in a struggle to find her own voice And for me neither the quirkiness of Krauss Foer nor the symphonic ventriloquism of Mitchell suits her In Arcadia she goes back to basics Straightforward storytelling without any post modernism pretence and I think this is the form that most suits her gift For me, she s not really an innovative writer At least not yet Her principle gift is she can write so well In conclusion, all I can say is thank heavens Groff gave up fancying herself as a comedian when she wrote her next two novels.
God, sometimes I love my job I commute two hours to and from work every day, and given current traffic conditions in the Austin area, you can go ahead and add at least another half hour to my drive home I ll sometimes stop and grab a burger for dinner, going through the drive through and then sitting in the parking lot to eat I always have a book in the car, so this gives me a little uninterrupted reading time while I finish my burger.
Most times, this takes 20 30 minutes But every once in a while I hit a book that grabs hold and won t let go Currently, that s Lauren Groff s debut novel The Monsters of Templeton.
I loved the cover as soon as I saw it, and when I read the a href copy, I knew I had to read it A couple of chapters in and I was gone, completely caught up in Templeton and its denizens, past and present I was as eager as Willie to unravel her tangled family history, and logic lost all hold on me Logic You should get going Me muttered while reading Um hmm Logic You ve still got 75 miles to go Me Um hmm Logic You can read the book when you get home Me Um hmm Logic You re not even listening to me, are you You re just going to keep reading until you finish the book, and we won t get home until eleven o clock The cats are gonna be pissed, you know Me Um hmm Logic sigh I came to myself an hour later, with tears in my eyes and a big, goofy grin on my face, thinking that I couldn t wait to tell someone about this amazing book It s part domestic novel, part historical fiction, and part mystery, with a dash of the supernatural for flavor It s sad and funny and sweet and somehow realistic and dreamy at the same time Stephen King compares the book to Ray Bradbury s work, and I have to agree There s something in this story that just slips past my logic and connects with me, and Bradbury has that same effect As if this wasn t enough, it s also closely tied in to the works of James Feni Cooper Templeton was a pseudonym that Cooper himself used for Cooperstown I m not familiar enough with Cooper s work to judge the accuracy with which this material is tied in, but I can say that for someone unfamiliar with Cooper, it worked just fine.

Author Lauren Groff gives the reader a modern story, a fantasy and an historical fiction story all within her tale of Willie, returned to her family home, who embarks on a quest to find the identity of her real father There is also a mythical lake monster and a resident ghost and while other writers may stagger under the weight of such scope, Groff juggles all story lines reasonably well It is narrated partly in the third person by two main characters, in first person narrations of ancestors and via diaries, letters and family tree diagrams Willie is also dealing with the break up of an affair, she has tried to run over her College professor s wife in a plane, an unwanted pregnancy and her best friend who has advanced case of Lupus So, you can see, Willie has her hands full and as the reader, we also have our hands brains full While I loved Groff s Arcadia and joyfully plunged into the words each time I picked up the book, The Monsters of Templeton was not a similar experience As the storyline grew, I felt befuddled so many characters speaking, diaries, letters, chapters undated aaaah At the three quarter stage of the novel, I had to push myself to finish and this was only because I needed to confirm if my guess who was Willie s father had been correct and it was Oh Lauren, it s difficult for me to say that this novel is average but average it is Generously, maybe over generously, I m rating this 3.
Maybe it helps to read mediocre books so you truly appreciate a good book when it crosses your path 1 star unreadable, 2 stars sorry to have wasted the time but did actually finish it, 3 stars is a notch above that and hey, that s not bad for a first time author.
My complaints include a plot that is driven by an only mildly compelling question, tons of subplots that have nothing to do with the main question and are boring distractions, poorly written fictional historical documents.
I got the feeling the author was desperately trying to pad the novel with prose even she couldn t have found compelling Also, it is incumbent upon an author who writes with constant, intentional reference to a certain setting to give us the appropriate sense of place through their writing, not just say the place is important or interesting and to expect the reader to fall in line and agree without proof I got very little sense of why I was supposed to care about Templeton, except it had a lake, baseball tourists, and a lot of boring family history for the narrator.
On a final note, the revelation of the narrator s true father, and how that came to pass and also how it was not revealed or even realized by the man in question for decades is ridiculous.
You wouldn t know it unless she told you, but this is Lauren Groff s wacky love letter to Cooperstown, NY, where she grew up If you really want to enjoy this book, it s best to relax and just accept it all in a spirit of playfulness It s a wild and goofy collage full of secrets and pretend secrets and mostly benign monsters and ghosts Willie Upton returns home to Templeton after a doomed relationship goes awry After she settles in, her mother Vivienne tells her that the story she s always believed about her absent father is a lie Willie sets out on a month long genealogical quest to discover who her father is, based on Vivienne s hints Along the way, Willie uncovers a heap of wild secrets and crazy rumors about the early inhabitants of Templeton She has to keep revising her family tree to include changelings and scoundrels This is an unconventional novel It jumps around a bit as the various historical figures tell their tales, and it flips in and out of reality But it s all done with such heart and humor that I didn t mind the wonky style You even get to see pictures of the ancestors with amusing captions.
Does this ever happen to you When I read something, I generally hear the words pretty much spoken inside my head as I read them Mostly though sometimes, when I m reading a truly great book, I start to feel that what I m hearing inside my skull is akin to music, almost, like some sort of lovely concerto version of the words on the page But then, sometimes, with not so great books, what I start to hear after I ve been reading for a while is of an irksome whine or a grating rumble, like the sound of a car being driven on a flat tire And reading The Monsters of Templeton, I found my head filled with an ongoing screech, loudly interrupted by repeated painful jarring clanks as, every couple of pages, my eye was dragged across yet another brutally inapt metaphor or wince inducing misuse of the poor English language This book has all the usual hallmarks of bad pretentious fiction characters that the reader is told repeatedly are wickedly funny, though we re never so blessed as to hear one of them say anything witty Modern day characters with names like Primus Dwyer, Aristabulus Mudge, Zeke Felcher Yes, Felcher Oh, and Reverend John Melkovitch Yes, John Melkovitch Overlarded sentences Obscure and utterly unpersuasive similes Misused words Patent absurdities given as plot points She patted my hand, leaving cheese flakes on my fingers Cheese flakes the streets, as familiar to us as the whorls in our own fingertips I don t believe I have the slightest f clue what my fingerprints look like Do you Clarissa, who could quote Nietszsche was the most puntastic person I d ever met, comes down with lupus, and they discuss famous people who d had it Flannery O Connor A good disease is nothard to find, Clarissa had punned then WHAT That is not a pun I looked into the mirror and saw that the pen I was chewing had exploded over my face, even dripping under my chin and onto my neck, and my teeth and tongue were stained, and that I, in my ignorance, had smeared black ink all over my cheeks and forehead WHAT Come on Really Could that happen The author seems not to know that there is kind of a big difference between a cross and a crucifix, and that the two words really can t be used interchangeably when the person wearing the cross is a protestant She thinks that someone dressed in a pink Polo shirt underneath a yellow sweater would look as yuppie as a person who was not a yuppie but wanted to look like a yuppie could look Yuppie Maybe it s been so long since anyone s heard that word that we ve forgotten that yuppie and preppie are not the same thing She thinks it s possible to punch someone and split one of his teeth in two Split She thinks storms have epicenters She thinks that I called Clarissa for hours is the same as I talked on the phone with Clarissa for hours She thinks the phrase He began to write and write, with a promiscuity that s surprising is somehow sensible Her narrator repeatedly repetitively, even tells us what a tough smart cookie she is, yet she somehow never manages to question her mother s assertion that she was born after ten and a half months in the womb Oh, sheesh, I could go on and on But I ll cut myself short and give out this advice Don t read it.
The Day I Returned To Templeton Steeped In Disgrace, The Fifty Foot Corpse Of A Monster Surfaced In Lake Glimmerglass So Begins The Monsters of Templeton, A Novel Spanning Two Centuries Part A Contemporary Story Of A Girl S Search For Her Father, Part Historical Novel, And Part Ghost Story, This Spellbinding Novel Is At Its Core A Tale Of How One Town Holds The Secrets Of A Family In The Wake Of A Wildly Disastrous Affair With Her Married Archeology Professor, Willie Upton Arrives On The Doorstep Of Her Ancestral Home In Templeton, New York, Where Her Hippie Turned Born Again Baptist Mom, Vi, Still Lives Willie Expects To Be Able To Hide In The Place That Has Been Home To Her Family For Generations, But The Monster S Death Changes The Fabric Of The Quiet, Picture Perfect Town Her Ancestors Founded Even Further, Willie Learns That The Story Her Mother Had Always Told Her About Her Father Has All Been A Lie He Wasn T The Random Man From A Free Love Commune That Vi Had Led Her To Imagine, But Someone Else Entirely Someone From This Very Town As Willie Puts Her Archaeological Skills To Work Digging For The Truth About Her Lineage, She Discovers That The Secrets Of Her Family Run Deep Through Letters, Editorials, And Journal Entries, The Dead Rise Up To Tell Their Sides Of The Story As Dark Mysteries Come To Light, Past And Present Blur, Old Stories Are Finally Put To Rest, And The Shocking Truth About Than One Monster Is Revealed