In the early pages of Fates and Furies, the masterful and much-lauded third novel from Lauren Groff ’01 (The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia), a theater instructor at a boarding school for boys asks his students the difference between tragedy and comedy, and a student suggests that the difference is an issue of solemnity versus humor. “False,” the instructor says. “A trick. There’s no difference. It’s a question of perspective. Storytelling is a landscape, and tragedy is comedy is drama. It simply depends on how you frame what you’re seeing.” In this book, Groff shifts every fictional frame imaginable, with stunning virtuosity, to illuminate one of the most memorable relationships in recent American writing.
The narrative is structured around the marriage of Lancelot “Lotto” Satterwhite, a failed actor turned legendary playwright, and Mathilde, who gave up her own aspirations in order to tend to her husband’s massive yet good-natured and delicate ego, cultivating and ensuring his greatness in ways that are not immediately apparent.