Lauren Groff’s most recent book, Florida, is a collection of stories the original publication dates of which straddle that of her most well-known novel, 2015’s Fates and Furies. As a result of this, we are able to see, in a single volume, something of the shifts Groff is capable of in her work, tonal subtleties which display a mastery of sentence-level craft and which place her work, to my mind, alongside that of similar masters of subtlety, loneliness, and grace, among them Mavis Gallant, Shirley Hazzard, and Jean Stafford. Take, for example, what Groff does with the openings of two separate stories collected in this volume. First from her Best American Short Stories-included “For the God of Love, for the Love of God”:
Stone house down a gully of grapevines. Under the roof, a great pale room.
And now the opening sentence of the volume’s final story, “Yport”:
The mother decides to take her two young sons to France for August.
These two openings well represent the breathtaking swing of Groff’s style during this period:
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