President Obama said it. Claire said it. (She’s up there with Obama in my book recommendation circle). Brianna said it, too. My own gut intuition said it. And then the fates (or the sirens) decided, all the saints from Riverhead decided, that I would be awarded an advanced copy on that funny little shell called Instagram where I house various pictures of my dogs, my sweats, and my open pages. (@bookishcassie).
And now it’s sitting, dainty and prudish in its cove of the library hutch. I would take a picture but that would really only represent the true amount of neglect that this book has seen across spring break pools, ocean sands, hotel rooms with fancy wooden stumps, suitcases, backpacks, and now the library hutch (which also regrettably hasn’t been dusted since its moved in). This book, Fates and Furies, by one of my favorite authors, Lauren Groff.
I read her short stories with reckless abandon. I made it through Arcadia, not really her best work but characterization was “magical at times,” as I tell my AP kids their essays need to be (not so sarcastically). I quit Monsters at Templeton about forty pages in. I’m pretty much a quitter if a book doesn’t grip me in some way or I don’t owe someone for the reading. So, it’s probably safe to say, I should stick to stories by her published in The New Yorker.
Truth is though, I really wanted to like it. I kept reading ahead because I couldn’t stand the drawl of this marriage. All one-sided from the perspective of Lotto. I just had to Google that name which shows how much I really got involved with this narcissistic asshole. Sure, there were things to love about Lotto, how he was always a bit half-baked like all men we meet in our twenties (can I get an amen?) And how he half expected Mathilde to just shell out her female superpowers and own that whole house until he managed to write a decent play.
This just was and wasn’t the life that I knew of anyone ever. Like, sure, marriage sucks sometimes, and those little tabs of deception, poked through receipts of burnt out anger, and the tips of sadness, adds up and amounts to some sort of heated disgust with our partner, but I don’t know anyone who just makes up for that (and their sordid childhood of fuckedupness) to become a famous playwright. Does this really happen? REALLY?
If this was a movie, you would see REALLY get bigger and bigger across the screen and get shouted louder and louder.
I think I made it through a few pages of Mathilde’s section because I got to the point that Lotto just kills himself.
And then I was outtie, five thoughty. Seriously, Lotto, you’re going to put us through your griping for (at a guess) one hundred and seventy pages and then kill yourself? Am I really ruining it for anyone who was late to this show and was going to pick it up a solid year after its big bestseller list extravaganza? I couldn’t even read Mathilde’s section because I. DIDN’T. CARE.
I felt for the woman. I did. Her character gets scraped off the pavement after being known as ghostly and definitely only sexy to Lotto who cheats on her (I think, can’t really remember since May) a lot. But then Lotto, who she’s spent so much gas on just up and kills himself. And I gotcha, I’m supposed to make the connection to that chick from his childhood and realize that grief tanks all of us in minuscule and big picture ways, but come on.
The only Mathilde I want to know is the one who watches that large boy eat the whole chocolate cake and gets taught by Ms. Honey.
I can’t. I couldn’t. I refuse. I won’t.
I probably should though since I have such strong feelings. I may have even fake reviewed this at some point? But that’s not really my style so I doubt it.
I’m not saying I won’t read all of Lauren Groff’s other books, because I will, probably the second they come out, but I am saying that I feel lonely on this island of deplorables that just didn’t enjoy reading Fates and Furies. (Notice we got out of the basket though).
(And come on, the metaphorical Greek / Roman tragedies abound here). ALLUSIONS!
Really, all I want you to get out of this blog today is that you need to go vote. And not because I disliked a book that everyone else liked, BUT because the people who are the most deplorable are those that don’t use their democracy when there are people around the world who get no voice at all. You’re given one, a tiny one on a piece of white copy paper that goes through a scanning counter that’s approximately seventy-two years old, but you get one nonetheless. (Shhhh. #Imwithher).
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.