Lauren Groff: Do less. Her third novel, Fates and Furies*, a National Book Award for Fiction finalist, is hype, hype city.
Here comes a very minor spoiler—honestly, I’m doing you a favor: the main character is floundering career-wise. He gets hammered at a party and instead of passing out like he usually does, he stays up and tries writing for the first time. He wakes up to an ecstatic wife who discovered he miraculously wrote a brilliant play overnight. He doesn’t remember. He has drunkenly stumbled into a lucrative career path like most people stumble into a 24-hour diner.
Full stop. This is lazy, unrealistic writing. This is The Art of Fielding all over again.
Unfortunately, the book thinks very highly of itself. She builds tension but the payoff isn’t worth it. The whole thing reads like there’s some giant reveal, but the surprises are improbable or uninteresting. Fates and Furies has Gone Girl vibes with less of an outright, singular twist. It follows two people who get married in spite of their secrets and complex backgrounds. Love knows no bounds blah blah blah.
So, I don’t like the plot, but I do like aspects of the writing. Groff does some cool things with brackets and, as an omniscient third-person narrator, she paints a full picture and has some creative leeway with the disclosure of information (what we know vs. what various characters know). However, I quickly grew weary of the characters and came to the conclusion that I don’t care who knows what.
Another redeeming factor (and perhaps the most surprising feature of the novel): it’s borderline erotica!
Okurrr, don’t hate it. But seriously, she doesn’t shy from the juicy bits. Fates and Furies levels out at 2 out of 5 camel humps.
*Groff, Lauren. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015. Print.