Nicholas Christopher
Book of beasts

By Nick Owchar Like many an excellent chronicler of village life, Lauren Groff gives us early in "The Monsters of Templeton" (Voice/Hyperion: 364 pp., $24.95) an ensemble view of the citizens of Templeton, a place very closely modeled on Cooperstown, N.Y., birthplace of baseball -- and Groff. You know what an ensemble view is: an event prompting villagers to come out in force, an opportunity for the narrator's camera to move from face to face. In Cheever's "The Wapshot Scandal," for example, the story begins with a view of the town, then the narrator moves among a group of Christmas carolers, telling us a little about each in preparation for the events to...