Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Lauren Groff is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Monsters of Templeton and the critically acclaimed short story collection Delicate Edible Birds. She has won Pushcart and PEN/O. Henry prizes, and has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. Her stories have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, One Story, and Ploughshares, and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2007 and 2010, and Best New American Voices 2008.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Arcadia, and reported the following:
Possibly apropos for a post called "Page 69," Arcadia's page 69 is a climax (of sorts). The first half of the novel takes place in a utopianist community in upstate New York called Arcadia. My main character, Bit Stone, is five at the time and has just been lost in the terrifying winter woods all afternoon. He is cold and it's dark and he was frightened enough to pee his pants, and now he feels as if he's being chased, and he sees glowing across the pond that the ancient building that his community is restoring, open for dinner for the first time. He runs toward its warmth and light and his mother, Hannah, who is helping to cook the community meal.

From page 69:
He bursts inside, into the overwhelming warmth. Here, too, is a thicket of legs like birch trunks, and he almost runs into one. Hey, there, man, someone says. Whoa, where's the emergency, someone else says. What the hey was that? someone asks, and someone else says, Oh, just your average forest elf, and there is laughter and he screws his fists and pushes harder.

The kitchen blasts with heat, hurts him. It smells so good he wants to cry. It is something fried, vegetable stew. He finds Hannah stirring vinegar into the roasted beets in a huge steel bowl, and clutches her knees. She smiles down at him. She lifts him and washes his face with warm water at one of the sinks. She says Brr, when she touches his hands, and picks the leaves and twigs out of his hair and lifts him to sniff at his rear end, and makes a little face, shrugging. We all have accidents, she whispers. It's okay once in a while to piss yourself, I'd say.

He puts his face close to his mother's warm mouth, and like that, the chasing thing in the woods draws away and dissolves back into the night.
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Groff's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Monsters of Templeton.

--Marshal Zeringue