Welcome to the third session of the Morning Edition book club! Here's how it works: A well-known writer will pick a book he or she loved. We'll all read it. Then, you'll send us your questions about the book. About a month later, we'll reconvene to talk about the book with the author and the writer who picked it.
After reading Deep Down Dark this winter and A God in Ruins this spring, it's time to reconvene the Morning Edition book club for our third meeting. We've asked Pulitzer Prize-winning author and screenwriter Richard Russo to do the honors: He's selected Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.
"It's a dramatic read, believe me," says Russo.
Fates and Furies is the story of a marriage, divided into two sections. The first, Fates, focuses on the husband's story. The second, Furies, completes the tale, focusing on the wife. Russo says that device allows for a stunning, 360-degree view of a complex relationship.
"The secrets here are character secrets, not plot secrets," he tells NPR's David Greene. "They are revealed in ways that sometimes take your breath away. You have to wait almost until the last page of the book to get to the last of the secrets."
Russo says he was fascinated by the book because of the way it deals with destiny. "It's something that I've been writing about in my own fiction for a very long time," he says. "I write about it, not because I understand it, but because I don't, and I'd love to."
Groff's previous books include the novels Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton. But it was her collection of short stories, Delicate Edible Birds, "that kind of blew my mind," says Russo. Those stories revealed the author's fearless, wide-ranging curiosity — which is also evident in Fates and Furies. "There's almost nothing that she's not interested in," Russo says, "and her skill set is breathtaking."
We hope you enjoy Fates and Furies! While you're reading over the next few weeks, you can leave your questions for Lauren Groff in the comments section below. When our club meets next month, your question might be read on air. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #morningeditionbookclub.
If you'd like to ask a question via voice memo, you can record yourself using a smartphone or similar device. Just follow these steps:
1. Introduce yourself and say where you live.
2. Ask your question for Lauren Groff. (Try to keep it brief! Time is limited on the radio.)
3. Send the recording to firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We are about to announce our next pick for the MORNING EDITION book club. This is where we ask a well-known writer to recommend a book. Everybody reads it. And then you send us your questions, and we bring the book's author onto the program to answer them. This round, our selector is Pulitzer Prize-winning author and screenwriter Richard Russo. And Russo's recommendation is...
RICHARD RUSSO: "Fates And Furies," by Lauren Groff.
GREENE: You say it so dramatically. I love that.
RUSSO: (Laughter) It's a dramatic read. Believe me.
GREENE: "Fates And Furies" is the story of a marriage, divided into two sections. The first, "Fates," focuses on the husband's story. The second, "Furies," completes the tale, focusing on the wife. Richard Russo says this device allows for a stunning 360-degree view of a complex relationship.
RUSSO: The secrets here are character secrets, not plot secrets. And they are - they are revealed in ways that sometimes take your breath away. You have to wait almost until the last page of the book to get to the last of the secrets.
GREENE: So, I mean, marriage, something that many people can relate to and think about in their own personal lives. Is that one reason you're picking this book, as something that a lot of people could really dig into?
RUSSO: Well, it's a good reason. But the real reason (laughter) that I was so fascinated by this book is that it is about destiny. And it's something that I've been writing about in my own fiction for a very long time. And I write about it, not because I understand it but because I don't. And I'd love to.
GREENE: So what can you tell us about the author, Lauren Groff?
RUSSO: I became interested because I heard she was from Cooperstown, N.Y. And that's just a few miles down the road from where I grew up in Gloversville. So writers, like everybody, we're all - we're all fiercely territorial. Those of us in upstate New York, you know...
GREENE: (Laughter) She's on my turf. Who is this woman on my turf?
RUSSO: That's right. That's right. William Kennedy's up there and Russell Banks and Joyce Carol Oates and the late Fred Exley. And we all consider this our turf. So who's this - who's this new girl coming on? And so I read her novel "The Monsters Of Templeton," which was a really fine first novel. But it was really the second book, a collection of short stories called "Delicate Edible Birds," that kind of blew my mind. "Fates And Furies," it reveals just how wide the author's curiosity is. And it was the same with that book of short stories. I kept wondering in "Delicate Edible Birds" - there's always a weak story or two, you know? And you think, all right, where's she going to bury the weak story? And it turned out there were none. And her mind goes everywhere. There's almost nothing that she's not interested in. And her skill set is breathtaking.
GREENE: You know, we're going to be asking our listeners to send in questions for the author when she comes on the air. But I'm just curious; what would you ask Lauren Groff about this novel if you had a chance?
RUSSO: I would ask her where she found the chutzpah. It's just an incredibly ambitious work. She writes like her hands are on fire in this one. And she's willing to go anywhere and follow anything into the most dangerous of territories. And she's really still a very young woman. You know, I'm 66 now.
GREENE: People would expect you to have chutzpah, not necessarily someone so young, you're saying.
RUSSO: Well, yeah. Someone - you get into your 60s - yeah... But somebody her age, to go hunting for big game this way, pretty remarkable, I think.
GREENE: All right, well, I'm excited to read the book. And thanks for choosing it. And it's been great talking to you.
RUSSO: Thank you, David.
GREENE: That is Richard Russo. And he has given us our assignment for the MORNING EDITION book club. It is the novel, "Fates And Furies," by Lauren Groff. It officially publishes today. Now go to npr.org. You can learn how to share your thoughts and questions with our virtual book group, meeting here. We'll put a few of your questions, along with that one, from Richard Russo, to Lauren Groff when she joins MORNING EDITION to engage with you about her book, "Fates And Furies," later on next month. I cannot wait to ask Lauren Groff where she finds her chutzpah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.