Maps of the Imagination takes us on a magic carpet ride over terrain both familiar and exotic. Using the map as a metaphor, fiction writer Peter Turchi considers writing as a combination of exploration and presentation, all the while serving as an erudite and charming guide. He compares the way a writer leads a reader though the imaginary world of a story, novel, or poem to the way a mapmaker charts the physical world. "To ask for a map," says Turchi, "is to say, Tell me a story.’ "
With intelligence and wit, the author looks at how mapmakers and writers deal with blank space and the blank page; the conventions they use or consciously disregard; the role of geometry in maps and the parallel role of form in writing; how both maps and writing serve to re-create an individual’s view of the world; and the artist’s delicate balance of intuition with intention.
A unique combination of history, critical cartography, personal essay, and practical guide to writing, Maps of the Imagination is a book for writers, for readers, and for anyone interested in creativity. Colorful illustrations and Turchi’s insightful observations make his book both beautiful and a joy to read.
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Peter Turchi is the Director of the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is the author of the novel The Girls Next Door and the story collection Magician, and the coeditor, with Andrea Barrett, of The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work and, with Charles Baxter, of Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life.From Booklist:
It's not uncommon to compare the writing of a story to the mapping of a world, but no one has so fully, or so seductively and rewardingly, performed as extended a meditation on this illuminating metaphor as Turchi. A fiction writer, anthologist, and the director of the MFA writing program at Warren Wilson College, Turchi parses with equal insight, knowledge, and elan the making of maps and the writing of fiction. Both involve purposeful omission; both require compression; both are subjective in their perspective, orientation, and emphasis; and both create illusions. Turchi's lively, idiosyncratic, and marvelously well-illustrated history of mapmaking (many cartographic quests are as quixotic as any in literature) is matched by reverie-inducing selections from Melville, Stevenson, Nabokov, Calvino, and Carver, as well as priceless musings on the Marx Brothers and the Road Runner. Ultimately, Turchi contrasts realistic and postrealistic approaches to storytelling, and concludes, "Reality is inexhaustible." Brilliant and pleasurable, Turchi's musing on our innate need to know where we are, where we might go, and why alters our perceptions of not only maps and fiction but also the nature of the mind's terra incognita. Donna Seaman
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