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Celebrated Novelist Talks Influence 

Written By Manon Riley 

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Deemed Barack Obama’s favorite book of 2015, “Fates and Furies” author Sarah Groff spoke Monday night at Carnegie Music Hall about the influences that inspire her writing.

She stressed the importance of using external experience to shape artistic experience.

“Steal from the people you love.” Groff bluntly answered during a Q&A after her speech.

This speech was one of 10 other celebrated speakers who agreed to join the ‘Ten Evenings’ series done by Pittsburgh Art and Lectures. Its purpose is to provide notable authors an outlet to voice their creative process in conversational lectures.

Groff is known famously for her newest novel, “Fates and Furies:” it was selected as Amazon’s #1 Best Book of the Year for 2015. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction in 2015. The novel delves into the realities of a marriage from perspectives of both the husband and wife. On a broader spectrum, this fictional story highlights the differences in perception even if lives are being lived simultaneously. Groff attributed much of her writing influence to Shakespearian literature.

She said the two main characters of the best-seller were based off Hamlet and Lady Macbeth. She romanticizes the tragedy-stricken plot-lines of each play he wrote.

Through numerous asides and lingering on certain tangents, Groff maintained a largely focused audience, many with book in hand.

“She had a self-admitted style of story-telling without a frame of reference.” Said Anne Koenig, a frequent audience member at the Pittsburgh Art and Lectures. While standing in line for her book to be signed AS A GIFT for her nephew, she admitted that although she had not read the book, she felt that Groff’s unique style engaged her more than previous speakers.

There was an opportunity to write a question for submission to be read aloud and answered by Groff after the speech.

“A novel is a sculpture made of time.” Groff expressed her intrigue with literary time. Sie feels as though in a novel time is expressed in 3-D and paralleled her time structures to the Greeks. She is fascinated by the way the Greek Gods have a different time frame than humans do.

With a tear flowing from her eye, Groff read an excerpt from Virginia Woolfe’s The Lighthouse to highlight the elemental nature of time.

With a slight twist of tone, Groff expressed her politically-driven concerns about the welfare of the art community SINCE RECENT REPORTS SAY the National Endowment of the Arts is being defunded, even though it only makes up 1/10th of 1% of the national budget.

She did not fail to mention the monetary rate at which Melania Trump is being kept safe at the Trump Towers—twice as much as the National Endowment.

“Art is utterly necessary.” An uproar of praise drowned out Groff’s final declaration. “It is all about the full-headed, noble pursuit.”

Groff implored “great readers of the world” to look upon the rights of the creator because although art doesn’t promote living it promotes being alive.

 

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