I picked this up on the same hit-or-miss trip to the library as Practically Perfect (I really liked the cover. Also the mention of monsters). I hesitated because as we all know I am lazy, and the description struck me as Literature. No apparent easy romance. Possible effort in reading. All of these things turned out to be true, but I am Improving Myself.
Willie Upton returns home to the mythical town of Templeton, NY after she has a disastrous affair with her PhD supervisor. The day she returns home, the corpse of a huge monster surfaces in the lake. Willie's aging hippie-turned-Baptist mother informs her that she's lied about the identity of Willie's father all her life. It's a man in town, though she refuses to tell Willie who, and Willie puts her researching skills to work discovering who it is, reading through the history of her family for generations. Alternating between Willie's narrative are excepts from the diaries and correspondence of her ancestors, complete with photographs. The PoMo relationship between fiction, reality, truth, and narrative are here in full force* as Willie sifts through the layers of her and the town's history. Willie is a passionate and dynamic character, and there's the definite sense that life is messy and that's the way it should be.
The Monsters of Templeton rocked my world. It is being added to the short list of books that have overwhelmed me with awesome and made me want to cry even when they weren't sad. If I hadn't already finished most of my Christmas shopping, this is what most people would be getting.
...And I am now officially caught up with the books I have read this month.
*Reminds me of my lone German lit class at Reed, with Ülker Gökberk, where we read W.G. Sebald's** The Emigrants and I struggled in vain to understand German way beyond my level and Post Modern German ideas.
**Any time I think of this author, which is surprisingly often based on my (lack of) comprehension of his book, I think his name in Ülker's crazy academic German: Vey-Gay ZAY-bald.