Upstate Utopia: Cooperstown Native to Discuss New Novel Set in New York Commune


By Heather Elia

(Hamilton, NY – March 2012) The Colgate Bookstore will host a special event with best-selling author Lauren Groff Sunday, March 25, at 1 p.m. in the Class of 2003 Events Room at 3 Utica St., to celebrate the publication of her new novel, “Arcadia.”

A brief reading will be followed by an interview and question-and-answer session. Copies of the author’s books will be available for purchase and signing. Light refreshments will be provided.

This event is free and open to the public.

Arcadia is the lyrical and haunting story of a great American dream – the progress of a utopian community and its lasting impact on a gifted young man. In the fields of western New York in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House.

Arcadia’s inhabitants include Handy, a musician and the group’s charismatic leader; Astrid, a midwife; Abe, a master carpenter; Hannah, a baker and historian; and Abe and Hannah’s only child, the book’s protagonist, Bit, who is born soon after the commune is created.

While Arcadia rises and falls, Bit, too, ages and changes, caught between his love for the peaceful agrarian life and the reality of the world outside, where he must eventually live.

Lauren Groff was born in 1978 in Cooperstown. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, and the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007 and Best American Short Stories 2010, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

A story will be included in the 2012 edition of PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Groff’s first novel, “The Monsters of Templeton,” published in February 2008, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and bestseller and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers.

Her second book, “Delicate Edible Birds,” is a collection of stories.

She lives in Gainesville, Fla., with her husband and two sons.

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