Maps of the Imagination

Maps of the Imagination : The Writer as Cartographer

4.01 (896 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.01 (896 ratings by Goodreads)

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This book tells us how maps help us to understand where we are in the world in the same way that literature, whether realistic or experimental, attempts to explain our realities. "Maps of the Imagination" explores how writers and cartographers use many of the same devices for plotting and executing their work, making crucial decisions about what to include and what to leave out, in order to get us from here to there, without excess baggage or a confusing surplus of information.Turchi traces the history of maps, from their initial decorative and religious purposes to their later instructional applications. He describes how maps rely on projections in order to portray a three-dimensional world on the two-dimensional flat surface of paper, which he goes on to relate to what writers do in projecting a literary work from the imagination onto the page.Drawing from texts as varied as poetry by Louise Gluck, stories by Kate Chopin and Robert Coover, novels by Robert Louis Stevenson and Italo Calvino, the film "Memento", and Chuck Jones' "Roadrunner" cartoons, Turchi ranges across a wide literary geography, illustrating his argument with an array of maps and illustrations, which will be scattered throughout the text.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 246 pages
  • 139 x 209 x 23.62mm | 496g
  • San Antonio, United States
  • English
  • First Trade Paper Edition
  • Color and B&W illustrations and maps throughout
  • 1595340416
  • 9781595340412
  • 125,218

Review quote

"Readers, after all, love to get lost in a good book. It is a wise writer who will not only deposit them there but lead them out again, whole and thoroughly satisfied."-- ForeWord

"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. . . . 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."-- Booklist

"For Turchi, the map is more than metaphor: it is an organizing principle of narrative. Language is like a land, paragraphs are districts, sentences are streets, and words are only lines and curves constructed the way maps are made of lines and shapes. Letters are like wild canyons and chaotic seas that the writer maps into words and then into sentences and then into scenes."-- The New Yorker

"I wish I had written Maps of the Imagination."-- Rebecca Solnit

"A gorgeous book in every way... engaging, intelligent, and never jargon laden; this book wears its vast learning lightly."-- CHOICE

"A book that cries to be read more than once."-- Greensboro News & Record

"Maps of the Imagination ranges widely across a many disciplines and art forms, from mathematics and formal geometry to Marx Brothers movies and the works of such writers as Borges and Calvino. Sometimes with off-the-cuff analogies, sometimes with pages of analysis, Turchi charts a lively course through a labyrinthine field of varying ways of looking at the world and, most important, the blank page."-- Publishers Weekly

"[Turchi's] study of maps has inspired writers, artists, and designers for more than a decade, about what maps can teach us when it comes to the creative process."-- Fast Company

"A treasure map for discovering secrets of the writer's life."-- The Charlotte Observer

"Maps of the Imagination should inspire both reader and writer as well as those of us who look at a map and immediately begin to dream of journeys not yet taken."-- The St. Petersburg Times

"A genre-defying gem that straddles art book, writer's manual and cultural critique in an utterly captivating way that makes you look at both old maps and familiar fiction with new eyes."-- Brain Pickings
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About Peter Turchi

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. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Rating details

4.01 out of 5 stars
- 896 ratings
5 36% (326)
4 37% (330)
3 20% (176)
2 5% (47)
1 2% (17)
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