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Groff, Lauren Fates and Furies ISBN 13 : 9781410484949

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FATES

 

 

1

A THICK DRIZZLE FROM THE SKY, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping. The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute. Houselights over the water dimmed to gray.

Two people were coming up the beach. She was fair and sharp in a green bikini, though it was May in Maine and cold. He was tall, vivid; a light flickered in him that caught the eye and held it. Their names were Lotto and Mathilde.

For a minute they watched a tide pool full of spiny creatures that sent up curls of sand in vanishing. Then he took her face in his hands, kissed her pale lips. He could die right now of happiness. In a vision, he saw the sea rising up to suck them in, tonguing off their flesh and rolling their bones over its coral molars in the deep. If she was beside him, he thought, he would float out singing.

Well, he was young, twenty-two, and they had been married that morning in secret. Extravagance, under the circumstances, could be forgiven.

Her fingers down the back of his trunks seared his skin. She pushed him backward, walking him up a dune covered in beach-pea stalks, down again to where the wall of sand blocked the wind, where they felt warmer. Under the bikini top, her gooseflesh had taken on a lunar blue, and her nipples in the cold turned inward. On their knees now, though the sand was rough and hurt. It didn’t matter. They were reduced to mouths and hands. He swept her legs to his hips, pressed her down, blanketed her with his heat until she stopped shivering, made a dune of his back. Her raw knees were raised to the sky.

He longed for something wordless and potent: what? To wear her. He imagined living in her warmth forever. People in his life had fallen away from him one by one like dominoes; every movement pinned her further so that she could not abandon him. He imagined a lifetime of screwing on the beach until they were one of those ancient pairs speed-walking in the morning, skin like lacquered walnut meat. Even old, he would waltz her into the dunes and have his way with her sexy frail bird bones, the plastic hips, the bionic knee. Drone lifeguards looming up in the sky, flashing their lights, booming Fornicators! Fornicators! to roust them guiltily out. This, for eternity. He closed his eyes and wished. Her eyelashes on his cheek, her thighs on his waist, the first consummation of this terrifying thing they’d done. Marriage meant forever.

[He’d planned for a proper bed, a sense of ceremony: he’d stolen his roommate Samuel’s beach house, having spent most summers there since he was fifteen, knowing that they hid the key under the hawksbill turtle carapace in the garden. A house of tartan and Liberty print and Fiestaware, thick with dust; the guest room with the lighthouse’s triple blink in the night, the craggy beach below. This was what Lotto had imagined for the first time with this gorgeous girl he’d magicked into wife. But Mathilde was right to agitate for plein-air consummation. She was always right. He would know this soon enough.]

It was over too quickly. When she shouted, the gulls hidden by the dune buckshot the low clouds. Later, she’d show him the abrasion against her eighth vertebra from a mussel shell when he dug her in and dug her in. They were pressed so close that when they laughed, his laugh rose from her belly, hers from his throat. He kissed her cheekbones, her clavicle, the pale of her wrist with its rootlike blue veins. His terrible hunger he’d thought would be sated was not. The end apparent in the beginning.

“My wife,” he said. “Mine.” Perhaps instead of wearing her, he could swallow her whole.

“Oh?” she said. “Right. Because I’m chattel. Because my royal family traded me for three mules and a bucket of butter.”

“I love your butter bucket,” he said. “My butter bucket now. So salty. So sweet.”

“Stop,” she said. She’d lost her smile, so shy and constant that he was startled to see her up close without it. “Nobody belongs to anybody. We’ve done something bigger. It’s new.”

He looked at her thoughtfully, gently bit the tip of her nose. He had loved her with all his might these two weeks and, in so loving, had considered her transparent, a plate of glass. He could see through to the goodness at her quick. But glass is fragile, he would have to be careful. “You’re right,” he said; thinking, No, thinking how deeply they belonged. How surely.

Between his skin and hers, there was the smallest of spaces, barely enough for air, for this slick of sweat now chilling. Even still, a third person, their marriage, had slid in.

 

 

2

THEY CLIMBED ACROSS THE ROCKS toward the house they’d left bright in the dusk.

A unity, marriage, made of discrete parts. Lotto was loud and full of light; Mathilde, quiet, watchful. Easy to believe that his was the better half, the one that set the tone. It’s true that everything he’d lived so far had steadily built toward Mathilde. That if his life had not prepared him for the moment she walked in, there would have been no them.

The drizzle thickened to drops. They hurried across the last stretch of beach.

[Suspend them there, in the mind’s eye: skinny, young, coming through dark toward warmth, flying over the cold sand and stone. We will return to them. For now, he’s the one we can’t look away from. He is the shining one.]

LOTTO LOVED THE STORY. He’d been born, he’d always say, in the calm eye of a hurricane.

[From the first, a wicked sense of timing.]

His mother was beautiful then, and his father was still alive. Summer, late sixties. Hamlin, Florida. The plantation house so new there were tags on the furniture. The shutters hadn’t been screwed down and made a terrific din in the wild first passage of the storm.

Now, briefly, sun. Rain dripped off the sour-orange trees. In the pause, the bottling plant roared five acres across his family’s scrubland. In the hallway, two housemaids, the cook, a landscaper, and the plant’s foreman pressed their ears to the wooden door. Inside the room, Antoinette was aswim in white sheets and enormous Gawain held his wife’s hot head. Lotto’s aunt Sallie crouched to catch the baby.

Lotto made his entrance: goblinesque with long limbs, huge hands and feet, lungs exceeding strong. Gawain held him to the light in the window. The wind was rising again, live oaks conducting the storm with mossy arms. Gawain wept. He’d hit his apex. “Gawain Junior,” he said.

But Antoinette had done all the work, after all, and already the heat she’d felt for her husband was half diverted into her son. “No,” she said. She thought of a date with Gawain, the maroon velvet in the theater and Camelot on screen. “Lancelot,” she said. Her men would be knight-themed. She was not without humor of her own.

Before the storm hit again, the doctor arrived to sew Antoinette back together. Sallie swabbed the baby’s skin with olive oil. She felt as if she were holding her own beating heart in her hands. “Lancelot,” she whispered. “What a name. You’ll be beat up for sure. But don’t you fret. I’ll make sure you’re Lotto.” And because she could move behind wallpaper like the mouse she resembled, Lotto is what they called him.

THE BABY WAS EXIGENT. Antoinette’s body was blasted, breasts chewed up. Nursing was not a success. But as soon as Lotto began to smile and she saw he was her tiny image with her dimples and charm, she forgave him. A relief, to find her own beauty there. Her husband’s family were not a lovely people, descendants of every kind of Floridian from original Timucua through Spanish and Scot and escaped slave and Seminole and carpetbagger; mostly they bore the look of overcooked Cracker. Sallie was sharp-faced, bony. Gawain was hairy and huge and silent; it was a joke in Hamlin that he was only half human, the spawn of a bear that had waylaid his mother on her way to the outhouse. Antoinette had historically gone for the smooth and pomaded, the suave steppers, the loudly moneyed, but a year married, she found herself still so stirred by her husband that when he came in at night she followed him full-clothed into the shower as if in a trance.

Antoinette had been raised in a saltbox on the New Hampshire coast: five younger sisters, a draft so dreadful in the winter that she thought she’d die before she got her clothes on in the morning. Drawers of saved buttons and dead batteries. Baked potatoes six meals in a row. She’d had a full ride to Smith but couldn’t get off the train. A magazine on the seat beside hers had opened to Florida, trees dripping golden fruit, sun, luxe. Heat. Women in fishtails undulating in mottled green. It was ordained. She went to the end of the line, the end of her cash, hitched to Weeki Wachee. When she entered the manager’s office, he took in her waist-length red-gold hair, her switchback curves, murmured, Yes.

The paradox of being a mermaid: the lazier she looks, the harder the mermaid works. Antoinette smiled languorously and dazzled. Manatees brushed her; bluegills nibbled at her hair. But the water was a chilly seventy-four degrees, the current strong, the calibration of air in the lungs exact to regulate buoyancy or sinking. The tunnel the mermaids swam down to reach the theater was black and long and sometimes caught their hair and held them there by the scalp. She couldn’t see the audience but felt the weight of their eyes through the glass. She turned on the heat for the invisible watchers; she made them believe. But sometimes, as she grinned, she thought of sirens as she knew them: not this sappy Little Mermaid she was pretending to be, but the one who gave up her tongue and song and tail and home to be immortal. The one who’d sing a ship full of men onto the rocks and watch, ferocious, while they fell lax into the deep.

Of course, she went to the bungalows when summoned. She met television actors and comics and baseball players and even that swivel-hipped singer once, during the years he’d made himself over into a film star. They made promises, but not one made good. No jets would be sent for her. No tête-à-têtes with directors. She would not be installed in a house in Beverly Hills. She passed into her thirties. Thirty-two. Thirty-five. She could not be a starlet, she understood, blowing out the candles. All she had ahead of her was the cold water, the slow ballet.

Then Sallie walked into the theater set under the water. She was seventeen, sun-scorched. She’d run away; she wanted life! Something more than her silent brother who spent eighteen hours a day at his bottling plant and came home to sleep. But the mermaids’ manager just laughed at her. So skinny, she was more eel than nixie. She crossed her arms and sat down on his floor. He offered her the hot dog concession to get her up. And then she came into the darkened amphitheater and stood dumbstruck at the glinting glass, where Antoinette was in mid-performance in a red bikini top and tail. She took up all the light.

Sallie’s fervent attention dilated down to the size of the woman in the window and there it would stay, fixed, for good.

She made herself indispensable. She sewed sequined posing tails, learned to use a respirator to scrape algae from the spring side of the glass. One day a year later, when Antoinette was sitting slumped in the tube room, rolling the sodden tail off her legs, Sallie edged near. She handed Antoinette a flyer for Disney’s new park in Orlando. “You’re Cinderella,” she whispered.

Antoinette had never felt so understood in her life. “I am,” she said.

She was. She was fitted into the satin dress with hoops beneath, the zirconium tiara. She had an apartment in an orange grove, a new roommate, Sallie. Antoinette was lying in the sun on the balcony in a black bikini and slash of red lipstick when Gawain came up the stairs carrying the family rocking chair.

He filled the doorway: six-foot-eight, so hairy his beard extended into his haircut, so lonely that women could taste it in his wake when he passed. He’d been thought slow, yet when his parents died in a car crash when he was twenty, leaving him with a seven-year-old sister, he was the only one to understand the value of the family’s land. He used their savings as down payment to build a plant to bottle the clean, cold water from the family’s source. Selling Florida’s birthright back to its owners was borderline immoral, perhaps, but the American way to make money. He accumulated wealth, spent none. When his hunger for a wife got too intense, he’d built the plantation house with vast white Corinthian columns all around. Wives loved big columns, he’d heard. He waited. No wives came.

Then his sister called to demand he bring family bits and bobs up to her new apartment, and here he was, forgetting how to breathe when he saw Antoinette, curvy and pale. She could be forgiven for not understanding what she was seeing. Poor Gawain, his mat of hair, his filthy work clothes. She smiled and lay back to be adored again by the sun.

Sallie looked at her friend, her brother; felt the pieces snap together. She said, “Gawain, this is Antoinette. Antoinette, this is my brother. He’s got a few million in the bank.” Antoinette rose to her feet, floated across the room, set her sunglasses atop her head. Gawain was close enough to see her pupil swallow her iris, then himself reflected in the black.

The wedding was hasty. Antoinette’s mermaids sat glinting in tails on the steps of the church, throwing handfuls of fish food at the newlyweds. Sour Yankees bore the heat. Sallie had sculpted a cake topper in marzipan of her brother lifting a supine Antoinette on one arm, the adagio, grand finale of the mermaid shows. Within a week, furniture for the house was ordered, help arranged for, bulldozers gouging out dirt for the pool. Her comfort secured, Antoinette had no more imagination for how she’d spend the money; everything else was catalog quality, good enough for her.

Antoinette took the comfort as her due; she hadn’t expected the love. Gawain surprised her with his clarity and gentleness. She took him in hand. When she shaved away all that hair, she found a sensitive face, a kind mouth. With the horn-rimmed glasses she’d bought him, in bespoke suits, he was distinguished if not handsome. He smiled at her across the room, transformed. At that moment, the flicker in her leapt into flame.

Ten months later came the hurricane, the baby.

IT WAS TAKEN FOR GRANTED by this trio of adults that Lotto was special. Golden.

Gawain poured into him all the love he’d swallowed back for so long. Baby as a lump of flesh molded out of hope. Called dumb his whole life, Gawain held his son and felt the weight of genius in his arms.

Sallie, for her part, steadied the household. She hired the nannies and fired them for not being her. She chewed up banana and avocado when the baby began to eat food, and put them into his mouth as if he were a chick.

And as soon as Antoinette received the reciprocal smile, she turned her energies to Lotto. She played Beethoven on the hi-fi as loudly as it would go, shouting out musical terms she’d read about. She took corre...

Revue de presse :
“Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and Fates and Furies is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers – with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout.” —The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“One of the pleasures of reading Ms. Groff is her sheer unpredictability: She can inject her narrator’s voice at any time, turn a sentence into a small hurricane.” —The New York Times

“Even from her impossibly high starting point, Lauren Groff just keeps getting better and better. Fates and Furies is a clear-the-ground triumph.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
 
“Thrillingly good—precise, lyrical, rich, both worldly and epically transfiguring... Groff is an original writer, whose books are daringly nonconformist... The prose is not only beautiful and vigorously alert; it insists on its own heroic registration, and lifts this story of a modern marriage out of the mundane.” —James Wood, The New Yorker

“Lauren Groff rips at the seams of an outwardly perfect marriage in her enchanting novel Fates and Furies.” Vanity Fair

“[Fates and Furies] is a stunning 360-degree view of a complex relationship... There’s almost nothing that [Groff is] not interested in and her skill set is breathtaking...It’s an incredibly ambitious work, she writes like her hands are on fire.” Richard Russo, NPR's Morning Edition

“We can’t help but be fascinated by the possibility of what goes on behind closed doors—especially if there’s a glam, madly-in-love couple on the other side. Meet Mathilde and Lotto. Groff’s novel unfolds in a he said/she said gutting drama that you won’t be able to resist.” – Marie Claire

“Sentence by sentence, this novel, like [Groff’s] others, is a thoroughbred. Measured by its narrative tricks, however, it is a Trojan horse. Groff’s story of a marriage in which neither partner truly understands the other uses a sophisticated technique to tell its simple story, subverting our expectations with a two-voice counterpoint as meaningful as it is dazzling.” —TIME

[This] story is a storm you hope won’t blow over: surprising, wild, with pockets of calm that build anticipation for the next squall... Groff scours her characters, laying them bare so questions of likability are moot. If, in the end, everyone is flawed, everyone also attains a kind of nobility.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“The book is a master class in best lines...It's that good. That beautiful. Occasionally, that stunning.” —NPR.org

The Florida author’s third novel is billed as her most ambitious yet, filled with sex, rage and revenge.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Audacious and gorgeous .... The result is not only deliciously voyeuristic but also wise on the simultaneous comforts and indignities of romantic partnership.” —LA Times

“[A] rich, tricky novel... Groff is a fantastically vivid writer... it’s hard to stop reading.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A recounting of a 25-year marriage looks way different when told from both sides of the bed.” Cosmopolitan

“A playful and riveting read that questions whether love can be true when it’s wrapped in falsehoods.” —People

“Renders majestic even the most familiar moments of everyday life... Groff’s writing is striking and revelatory.” —USA Today

“[Groff has the] ability to write dazzlingly about sexual matters." —Vogue

“A delirious, exhilarating and heartbreaking ride through the decades of one fable-like marriage ... The author demands the reader to participate, to engage deeply in order to take in all of the mysteries, flaws and triumphs of this one relationship. Read it, relish it and be sad when the ride is over.” San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Groff breaks the novel form open at the seams... What's different and remarkable about Groff's third novel can be summarized in two little words: the writing. Groff is a prose virtuoso, and in Fates and Furies she offers up her writerly gifts in all their glory.” —The Chicago Tribune

“Groff’s command of allusions, imagery, and the puzzle pieces of her characters and plot thrill. So do her words, phrases, and sentences, which bubble up like poetry.” —The Boston Globe

“[Fates and Furies]
is capacious, messy, and bold... Groff’s hard, realist vision of marriage — not the fairy-tale voices of the fates that embroider it — gives her novel its considerable force.” LA Review of Books

“Groff’s novel keenly probes the different ways that men’s and women’s creativity and human value are assessed.” —The Guardian 

“Watching a relationship from its inception to its quiet demise is a perverse pleasure... . Lifting the curtain on the front of a perfect marriage and finding a messy pile of emotions heaped on infidelities is strangely satisfying; reading about the nasty bits in prose as elegant and cutting as Groff’s is icing on the cake.” —Gawker

“Groff’s boldness pays off... the title evokes images of Greek mythology in all its vicious glory as Groff examines a marriage by dosing it with epic overtones and filling it with the sort of themes the gods themselves would appreciate: jealousy; betrayal; art; death; love; revenge.” —Miami Herald

“For all the homage Groff pays to the comforting rituals comprising a marriage, her novel is also attuned to how little we'll ever know, even of those we know best. Fates and Furies will induce such reflection. Involving the bed you've made. The loved ones you've made it with. And whether you're living your life there or just sleeping it away.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Fates and Furies is wholly complex, dramatic, and riveting – an exploration of love, betrayal, perception, and the destructive power of secrets. Groff’s novel’s crackling energy makes it the perfect read for fall.” —Buzzfeed 

“Each page contains sumptuous pieces of imagery.... Fates and Furies, too, begins as a fist, its secrets clenched in its grasp. Once it is pried open, the secrets release like a magician’s doves.” —Electric Literature

“With Fates and Furies Lauren Groff goes many levels below the surface of a marriage, into a place that is perhaps as hard to reach as it is to describe, but Groff, a bold and marvelous writer, is able to do both.  Because she's so vitally talented line for line and passage for passage, and because her ideas about the ways in which two people can live together and live inside each other, or fall away from each other, or betray each other, feel foundationally sound and true, Fates and Furies becomes a book to submit to, and be knocked out by, as I certainly was.” —Meg Wolitzer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings

“Fates and Furies
 is a dazzling novel, its people and its prose wondrously alive from page one. At once intimate and sweeping, this is the story of a marriage as parallel myths— flaring with passion and betrayal, with redemption and retribution, with the sort of heart-breaking, head-slapping secrets that make you want to seek out someone else who's read it. Lauren Groff is a powerful and graceful writer, one of the best of her generation.” —Jess Walter, New York Times-bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
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  • ÉditeurThorndike Pr
  • Date d'édition2015
  • ISBN 10 1410484947
  • ISBN 13 9781410484949
  • ReliureRelié
  • Nombre de pages615
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