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- March 2014: Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
- February 2014: Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age
- January 2014: Full Upright and Locked Position by Mark Gerchick '73, P'13
- December 2013: This Indian Country by Fred Hoxie '69
- November 2013: The Partner Track by Helen Wan '95
- October 2013: The Forage House by Tess Taylor '99
- September 2013: Inferno by Dan Brown '86
- August 2013: Six Years by Harlan Coben '84, P'16
- July 2013: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- June 2013 - Brothers Emanuel by Ezekiel Emanuel '79
- May 2013 - Cadaver by Jonah Ansell '03
- April 2013 - Masters of Disaster by Chris Lehane '90
- March 2013 - Schroder by Amity Gaige
- February 2013: El Iluminado by Ilan Stavans
- January 2013: Everything Under the Sun by David Suzuki '58
- December 2012: Arcadia by Lauren Groff
- November 2012: The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon '92
- October 2012: The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- September 2012: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum '99
- August 2012: Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski '69
- July 2012: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach '93
- June 2012: Vineyard at the End of the World by Ian Mount '92
- May 2012: God's Jury by Cullen Murphy '74
- April 2012: Big Birthday by Kate Hosford '88
- March 2012: EyeMinded by Kellie Jones '81
- February 2012: 1493 by Charles Mann '76
- December 2011: The Vices by Lawrence Douglas
- November 2011: Don't Cross Your Eyes by Aaron Carroll '94
- October 2011: Come On All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder '89
- September 2011: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace '85
- August 2011: Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy '83
- July 2011: Terror and Wonder by Blair Kamin '79
- June 2011: What Should I Do? by Professor Alex George
- May 2011: Model Nazi by Professor Catherine Epstein
- April 2011: A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei '99
- March 2011: Unlikely Allies by Joel Paul '77
- February 2011: Secret Historian by Justin Spring '84
- December 2010: The Best of Foxtrot by Bill Amend '84
- November 2010: Higher Education? by Andrew Hacker '51
- October 2010: Routes of Man by Ted Conover '80
- September 2010: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick '75
- August 2010: Innocent by Scott Turow '70
- July 2010: Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee '93
- June 2010: Ballet's Magic Kingdom by Professor Stanely Rabinowitz
- May 2010: Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman '68
- April 2010: Andean Express by Adrian Althoff '04
- March 2010: Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- February 2010: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl '89
- December 2009: What to Read When by Pam Allyn '84
- November 2009: On Poets and Poetry by William H. Pritchard '53
- October 2009: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell '95
- September 2009: Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey
- August 2009: The End of Overeating by David Kessler '73
- July 2009: The Mirror Effect by Dr. Drew Pinsky '80
- June 2009: Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus '61
- May 2009: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben '84
- April 2009: Passing Strange by Marni Sandweiss
- March 2009: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian '82
- February 2009: Loneliness as a Way of Life by Tom Dumm
- January 2009: Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- December 2008: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff '01
- November 2008: The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate '89
- October 2008: The Thing Itself by Dick Todd '62
- September 2008: Are We Rome by Cullen Murphy '74
About the Author: Lauren Groff '01
A message from Lauren:
Thank you very much for being a part of the Amherst Alumni book group discussion of The Monsters of Templeton. This is especially exciting for me because my novel has roots in Amherst: my main character, Willie Upton, attends the college as an undergraduate, and the idea to write this novel dawned on me for the first time during my first creative writing workshop as a sophomore (though it took a few more years for me to gain the courage to tackle writing the book). I couldn't imagine a group of readers more attentive or thoughtful than Amherst Alumni, and I can only hope that we have a discussion that will bring back those long afternoon English literature seminars in Johnson Chapel, when we were kindled and delighted by the roiling conversation about whatever disparate texts--from The Moonstone to The Wasteland to Things Fall Apart--that we were reading at the time.
The Monsters of Templeton is my love-song for Cooperstown, New York, where I was born and raised. Cooperstown is a marvelous place of fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, but wildly outsized in the history of America. We have the Baseball Hall of Fame there, a world-class opera, spectacular natural beauty, and James Fenimore Cooper, our native son. We are also rich in history and legend--for instance that there's a monster in our deep, glacial lake--and when I set out to write the novel, I wanted to wrap up everything I knew or thought I knew about my town and give it to the reader to keep. And so my book was born, spanning 200 years of Cooperstown's history, bringing in Fenimore Cooper's own characters, and in the process turning Cooperstown into Templeton, my utterly fictional version of the town, a version that I hoped would strive toward an emotional truth about the place.
I do hope you enjoy the book--but, if enjoyment is too much to hope for, I hope that it gives you some fodder to think about.
I am always happy to discuss my novel with readers, or for that matter, Amherst, writing in general, or any other topic that comes up, so please do feel free to weigh in here--or contact me directly at email@example.com, if you'd prefer.
Thank you very much, and have a splendid December.
(view alumni profile - log in required)
Date of Birth
July 23, 1978
Place of Birth
Amherst College, '01
University of Wisconsin-Madison, MFA in Fiction, '06
Axton Fellow in Fiction, '06-'07
Amherst College Major
French and English
Favorite Amherst College Class
It's a toss-up between four: my senior thesis project with Professor Andy Parker (I took a half-creative, half-critical look at the crossroads where fact and fiction meet in autobiography), Professor Paul Rockwell's survey of Medieval French Literature, Professor Leah Hewitt's survey of Afro-Caribbean literature in French, and Professor Judy Frank's creative writing class--my first fiction workshop (which I survived mainly thanks to her grace and kindness).
Favorite Amherst College Professor
I have too many favorites to choose just one.
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
I knew I wanted a small liberal arts college and was actually supposed to go to another NESCAC school (I'm not telling which) when I took a year off to be a Rotary Exchange Scholar to Nantes, France. While there, I had the slow and sinking realization that I'd chosen the wrong school for me--I kept remembering my trip to Amherst and how it seemed to perfectly dovetail into what I wanted from a school--and I especially liked the Five-College system, which meant that I could still have the small liberal arts experience, but when I felt a little claustrophobic I could take a class at another school and expand Amherst's "golden bubble" overnight. So I applied and, to my great relief, got in--I remember celebrating with some nice French champagne.
Awards and Prizes
Pushcart Prize; Axton Fellowship in Fiction; Pleasant T. Rowland fellowship; Peter Burnett Howe Prize (Amherst College); August Derleth Prize (UW-Madison); shortlisted for the Orange Prize for new writers; inclusion in the Best American Short Stories and Best New American Writers anthologies; fellowships at Yaddo, Ragdale and the Vermont Studio Center
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Tips for aspiring writers?
l'd say about eighty percent of humanity has the natural capacity to be a writer in some degree or discipline, provided the right education and access to the best books or libraries. I have taught writing, and you can teach someone about an Oxford comma or a clerihew, how to create tension in a story, or how to adhere to journalistic principles. What you can't teach is the vital spark that turns a reader into a writer: that's the natural winnowing process that turns the eighty percent into a .08 percent. I'd tell an aspiring writer to look within herself to see if she has that spark, if she would give up nearly everything to get the chance to write. If so, she should go for it with all her might. If not, she should try to cultivate that fire. Read and write and feel delighted that every day is another chance to practice what you love.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
I've been a big reader all my life, and I always wanted to be a writer: I once thought being a writer meant serious spectacles and vast mahogany desks and rooms walled with books and a summer cottage in the Cotswalds with cows lowing out the window. The reality is that I only dabbled at writing from the time I was little to the time I went to college, when I woke up one day and realized that I wasn't Rilke. It's hard work like any other craft: plumbers don't become plumbers by reading about pipes, and writers don't write by only reading and dreaming about the books we'd one day write. I took a workshop in college, and fell in love with short stories; I worked a thousand terrible jobs after college to pay the bills while I wrote; at last, I went to graduate school and went all-out for two years, breathing, eating, and drinking only fiction. I finished my novel shortly after graduating and was lucky to sell it almost immediately, to my immense delight and even more immense confusion. Apparently, at last, I'd become an author without any of the accoutrements (save the serious spectacles) that I'd always imagined "being a writer" to entail. One day, I hope for the rest. Especially the cows.
Additional Information About the Author
Lauren Groff was born in 1978 in Cooperstown, N.Y., and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, One Story, and Five Points, as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008. Her first novel is The Monsters of Templeton, and in January she will publish a short story collection titled Delicate Edible Birds. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay Kallman ('00), and her son, Beckett (potential class of 2030). You can find out more at www.laurengroff.com.