Lauren Groff on Exploring the Many Meanings of Matrix in Her New Novel
In Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast
On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Mitchell Kaplan talks to Lauren Groff about her new novel, Matrix, out now from Riverhead Books.
From the episode:
Lauren Groff: [Matrix] is one of my favorite words, which is why I fought very, very hard to have this book be titled Matrix, even with Keanu Reeves coming out with a new movie, right?
Mitchell Kaplan: Well, we don’t call it The Matrix.
Lauren Groff: Some people do, and I get a little weird. I had to fight for it because it’s it is the word that sort of reflects back into the book in about a dozen different ways. So Matrix comes from Latin for “mother,” and it is a word that is used in so many disciplines, right? In geology, it is the bedrock in which gems are found. There’s a matrix as an organizational structure, not just computer structure, which is, I think, what “The Matrix” is. There is the seal matrix, which is how you close a letter in medieval times with the wax and you press those seal matrix into it.
Mitchell Kaplan: Which makes an appearance.
Lauren Groff: Which makes an appearance and so does in the book Eve as Matrix, as the mother of all.
Mitchell Kaplan: Well, the definition of matrix that I was keeping in mind when I was reading was womb.
Lauren Groff: Yes, womb, absolutely.
Mitchell Kaplan: The idea of the womb was something really very poignant for me.
Lauren Groff: It plays out of which other things come, and that sort of reflects into the meaning that I find actually closest to the book itself, which is the original on which other things are made. So the original record from which other records are pressed or the original form on which sculptures are then created afterwards. So that’s the meaning that gave me chills when I saw it.
Lauren Groff is a two-time National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, and Fates and Furies, and the short story collections Delicate Edible Birds and Florida. She has won the Story Prize and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Groff’s work regularly appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and elsewhere, and she was named one of Granta’s 2017 Best Young American Novelists.