Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Monsters of Templeton

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The Monsters of Templeton

A Novel

by Lauren Groff

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2008, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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Beyond the Book

Print Review

A Scenic Tour of Cooperstown, New York

Though Groff's preface clearly defines her book as a work of fiction, she also admits that it is a love story of sorts for her childhood hometown of Cooperstown, New York. Cooperstown, a village in Otsego County, has several claims to fame, the most prominent of which is the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1908, the seven-man Mills Commission chose Cooperstown as the site for the Hall of Fame. The Mills Commission was formed three years prior for the purpose of determining where and under what circumstances America's favorite game was invented. Cooperstown was chosen to host the Hall of Fame mostly because of its connection to Abner Doubleday. Doubleday's friend, Abner Graves's, testimony convinced the Mills Commission that the modern game of baseball began on the playing fields of Cooperstown. Primary source documents from the Commission hearings were discovered in 1999 which confirmed the suspicions of many historians and researchers that the game's beginnings were not connected to Doubleday. Despite this inaccuracy, Cooperstown remains a town very much associated with baseball. In the novel, Groff includes the Mills Commission's choice of Cooperstown to host the Hall of Fame as an important part of the fictional Templeton's character and survival.

William Cooper is recognized as the founder of Cooperstown. His son, author James Fenimore Cooper, published over 30 novels and is often recognized as America's first popular novelist (his daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, was also a writer).  The Fenimore Art Museum is located beside the New York State Historical Association and the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown.

The novel is sprinkled with vintage photographs, which will likely make many readers wonder where those pictures came from and who the subjects really are. Happily, Groff addresses this question on the web site promoting the book. The photographs are a mixture of Groff's own family and friends as well as images of strangers that she has collected over the years. Groff also created a slide show of Cooperstown that can be viewed via the "Monsters' Extras" section of this page.

Article by Stacey Brownlie

This article was originally published in April 2008, and has been updated for the November 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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