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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 t 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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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 t 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.

30 review for Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    This is one of the most imaginative books on writing that I have read. Readers who look for very clear, concise prompts and descriptions of the writing process will likely be frustrated by Turchi's approach. However, if you are adventurous and willing to follow where Turchi leads, you will have new inspiration and ideas about how to write and read fiction. Turchi's innovation is his drawing parallels between cartography and writing. He provides scores of full-color reproductions of many kinds of This is one of the most imaginative books on writing that I have read. Readers who look for very clear, concise prompts and descriptions of the writing process will likely be frustrated by Turchi's approach. However, if you are adventurous and willing to follow where Turchi leads, you will have new inspiration and ideas about how to write and read fiction. Turchi's innovation is his drawing parallels between cartography and writing. He provides scores of full-color reproductions of many kinds of maps, from beautifully illuminated medieval manuscripts to early modern maps of the New World to utilitarian schemas showing metro stops in Washington DC. His examples from the history of cartography serve as a jumping off point for his explorations of the writing process as well as of ways that writers guide readers through their works. His specific examples are not simply drawn from maps, but also from a wide-ranging group of writers, including Anne Carson, Italo Calvino, Ernest Hemingway, and even Chuck Jones' Road Runner cartoons. In the end, this thought-provoking book also serves as an interdisciplinary examination of how humans think -- our need for guides, our approach to organizing a dizzying array of stimuli, and our joy in sometimes forging a new path. Highly recommended for adventurous GRers, both writers and readers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    liked the first half a lot, not so much the second.2.5 stars overall *** I was super enjoying this book until I hit page 132 and this: " . . . eavesdrop on the conversation taking place beside us, via cellphone, between the woman we see and someone distant . . . with whom she was vulgarly, spectacularly angry." And that's the thing, isn't it? For a woman to be angry, and to express it, is vulgar. It's right up there with "a lady should never be surprised." We should be in control of our emotions an liked the first half a lot, not so much the second.2.5 stars overall *** I was super enjoying this book until I hit page 132 and this: " . . . eavesdrop on the conversation taking place beside us, via cellphone, between the woman we see and someone distant . . . with whom she was vulgarly, spectacularly angry." And that's the thing, isn't it? For a woman to be angry, and to express it, is vulgar. It's right up there with "a lady should never be surprised." We should be in control of our emotions and, if we express displeasure, it should be in a calm, moderate, logical way, that embraces our femininity and class, and never makes the other person feel bad for a second. Well, fuck that. Be angry. Be vulgar. Get upset. Ugly-cry if you want to. I'll hold your purse and hand you tissues, and please do the same for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    K.C.

    this book is great when read in tandem with katherine harmon's book you are here: maps of the imagination. (i've bought five or more copies of that book as gifts; everyone should have a copy.) both are full of delightful, beautifully reproduced maps of fancy--created about imaginary places or places reimagined. a wonderful way of thinking about creating place in fiction, but also of the psychogeographical implications of the places we travel through in our imaginations and in our every day lives this book is great when read in tandem with katherine harmon's book you are here: maps of the imagination. (i've bought five or more copies of that book as gifts; everyone should have a copy.) both are full of delightful, beautifully reproduced maps of fancy--created about imaginary places or places reimagined. a wonderful way of thinking about creating place in fiction, but also of the psychogeographical implications of the places we travel through in our imaginations and in our every day lives. the turchi book is replete with tasty quotes and was written by the head of the warren wilson low-res program.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    A little more than halfway through "Maps of the Imagination," Turchi brings up Christopher Nolan's "Memento," calling it "clever" which is a mark of most of Nolan's films. But unlike "Inception," which was clever to no real point, "Memento" makes us consider our reliance upon memory, friendships, and the fragility of our sense of reality. Turchi's own book veers between these two poles, sometimes clever but not for discernible reasons, other times clever, compelling, and worth pondering. The titl A little more than halfway through "Maps of the Imagination," Turchi brings up Christopher Nolan's "Memento," calling it "clever" which is a mark of most of Nolan's films. But unlike "Inception," which was clever to no real point, "Memento" makes us consider our reliance upon memory, friendships, and the fragility of our sense of reality. Turchi's own book veers between these two poles, sometimes clever but not for discernible reasons, other times clever, compelling, and worth pondering. The title is slightly mis-leading. The book is not really about imagination, nor does it attempt to delineate the areas of the imagination. Rather, it is an extended metaphor linking writing (and reading) to mapmaking (and reading). He approaches this subject from a series of different perspectives, making the book more a collection of essays (or meditations) than a sustained narrative. Still, it's a nice read. Turchi is smart, knows a lot, and writes well. It reminds me of essays that might appear in "The New Yorker". The book is also a (mild) defense of nineteenth-century style psychological realism over post-modern inventions. After an introduction laying out the basic metaphor he will consider, Turchi expands on it in six chapter and what is effectively an epilogue. The first chapter concerns white space--what is left out. As every school girl knows, one can't have a map that is a perfect representation of the world--unless the map is the world itself. And so cartographers choose items to highlight, just as writers have to select to make their stories coherent. Turchi offers a nice reading of Chopin's "The Storm" to make his points (among other discussions), but this chapter seems like one of those that are more clever than pointed. He then moves on to two related chapters on conventions and the breaking of those conventions. Mapmakers and authors both use stylized devices to make their points, and an audience must learn to recognize these, and, sometimes, to break them. I especially enjoyed Turchi's discussion Hemingway's "The Killers" but both these chapters are entertaining, for their discussions of literature as well as the history of cartography. Chapter Five, "Theater of the World" was a little hard for me to get my head around--I guess I'm not sure if it is clever or pointed. It argues (I think) that since neither maps nor literature can completely capture the world, they must rely on telling and specific details. Obviously, this is write, I'm just not sure that the metaphor is necessary to make this point, nor does it illuminate the point in the way a discussion of conventions does. Conventions is also the subject of Chapter Six, "a Rigorous Geometry". albeit in this case the conventions are hidden--and the metaphor more illuminating. Turchi points out that certain mathematical projections and equations underly the drawing of maps, ones we often do not think about. And the same is true of certain books, especially those of a more postmodern (or post-structualist) cast, since authors of these books tend to especially aware of the structural conventions that underly novels and like to mess around with them. Here is where Turchi really starts to distance himself from post-modernism (already he has implicitly argued that realistic novels make good maps; now he shows the problems with other maps). The realistic novel, he says, started out mapping the theater of the world and increasingly turned inwards, through psychological realism, until "postrealistic" work takes aim at the mind's constructs. He discusses, inter alia, the Oulipo, and its most famous student, Italo Calvino, for example, and while he clearly adores Calvino thinks that these experiments are ultimately dead-ends. Still, he thinks these authors are still worth reading and contemplating, even if they are not worth emulating (p. 210). Turchi does an interesting reading of Chuck Jones's "Road Runner" cartoons as part of this tradition, for example, and encourages watching them to see that despite a very rigid formula the works can still be great. He also admires Nabokov, who fits into this tradition. The final chapter is kind of a epilogue, dwelling mostly on the construction of Robert Louis Stevenson's "treasure Island," since Stevenson based his story on a map he had drawn for fun. The argument, such as it is, is that writers should begin from the unknown and map it. This final chapter, unfortunately, is neither really clever nor pointed, just hortatory. It's a little disappointing, but fitting given that the book is uneven. Nonetheless, it is a fun read, and I gave it four stars despite its problems, because I like to see these kinds of books published and read--books that are trying to do something interesting, even if they fail.

  5. 5 out of 5

    dthaase

    This was one of the most enjoyable non-fiction reads I have read in a long time. If you a writer or someone who simply enjoys creativity and pushing the limits of convention in writing, this book is for you. Turchi extends the metaphor of the map and constructs a world for the reader to navigate. It is filled with wonderful illustrations and the author allows the reader to make many of the connections on their own. This book stimulates creativity. Turchi is a writer who knows how to teach writin This was one of the most enjoyable non-fiction reads I have read in a long time. If you a writer or someone who simply enjoys creativity and pushing the limits of convention in writing, this book is for you. Turchi extends the metaphor of the map and constructs a world for the reader to navigate. It is filled with wonderful illustrations and the author allows the reader to make many of the connections on their own. This book stimulates creativity. Turchi is a writer who knows how to teach writing and this book is proof. Here are few of my favorite quotes from the book: "Artistic creation is a voyage into the unknown." pg. 13 "Sam Hamill writes of the poet Basho, "His journey is a pilgrimage; it is a journey into the interior of the self as much as a travelogue, a vision quest that concludes in insight. But there is no conclusion. The journey itself is home."" pg. 22 "We start with a blank: a world of possibility." pg. 28 "To learn how to read any map is to be indoctrinated into that mapmaker's culture." pg. 33 "Omissions, intended or unintended, provoke the imagination." pg. 47 "Even a child eyeing a pumpkin in October knows that most of the work ahead will be deciding what to remove." pg. 69 "The first lie of a map - also the first lie of fiction - is that it is the truth." pg. 73 "How we see depends, in part, on what we want to see." pg. 78 "Under the most rigorous examination, no map is accurate..."Accuracy," then, must be judged against the map's stated purpose. In the case of a piece of writing, we can determine accuracy in light of the implicit intention." pg. 90-91 "A great deal of what we know, we know only through our imagination - and that knowledge is crucial to our lives." pg. 92 "We can never move entirely beyond the limits of our physical confines, or even beyond our perceptions and understanding; but fiction and poetry, in expanding the world of our imagination beyond the world of our experience, allow us more intimate - and so more thorough, and perhaps more compassionate - imaginative knowledge of our fellow beings than we are likely ever to have in the course of our daily lives." pg. 157 "So the world of the story is a thing we create or summon into being, but which the reader participates in creating and understanding. A story or novel is a kind of map because, like a map, it is not a world, but it evokes one (or at least one, for each reader)." pg. 166 "We may want the world of our stories to be rich and complex, even (apparently) unpredictable, filled with surprise. But surprise depends on expectation. If we have no expectations, there are no surprises; that's why it's hard to tell jokes to dogs." pg. 182 "Surprise jolts us into a state of heightened perception, and so opens us to the possibility of new understanding." pg. 201

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    What a refreshing, imaginative book about writing and craft. So many craft books out there feel obvious or repetitive to me, so I really enjoyed Turchi's spin on things. The chapter "Rigorous Geometries" is extremely interesting...you don't find many craft books that attempt to merge the mathematical and the literary, and in this section Turchi's spatial approach to plot is particularly wonderful. At times, Turchi struggles to connect certain the tropes of cartography to writing, but it hardly m What a refreshing, imaginative book about writing and craft. So many craft books out there feel obvious or repetitive to me, so I really enjoyed Turchi's spin on things. The chapter "Rigorous Geometries" is extremely interesting...you don't find many craft books that attempt to merge the mathematical and the literary, and in this section Turchi's spatial approach to plot is particularly wonderful. At times, Turchi struggles to connect certain the tropes of cartography to writing, but it hardly matters how well the ideas connect...the information about mapmaking and about writing are equally fascinating, and regardless of the strength of the connection between them, they are valuable and worth reading. Aside from all of the great content, the book is beautiful and includes several old maps and interesting illustrations. Who doesn't like an intellectual PICTURE book, right? Highly recommended!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    so unbelievably mindblowing. highly recommend to anyone who thinks about geometry, space or mapping and also likes books, art, music... etc. very very well done. great visuals from fractals to subway maps to dante's inferno. so unbelievably mindblowing. highly recommend to anyone who thinks about geometry, space or mapping and also likes books, art, music... etc. very very well done. great visuals from fractals to subway maps to dante's inferno.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris - Quarter Press Editor

    This is one of those that screams, "WHY DIDN'T I MAKE THIS CONNECTION!?!" Turchi's metaphor for writing and the writing process is so simple and elegant that it really does beg the question as to why no one else has written such a thing before. Still, I suppose that's what often makes the best writing so compelling: the simplicity of its beauty and presentation. Truly, I loved the content. Admittedly, I only recently have read many of Turchi's examples and outside materials, which helped me feel " This is one of those that screams, "WHY DIDN'T I MAKE THIS CONNECTION!?!" Turchi's metaphor for writing and the writing process is so simple and elegant that it really does beg the question as to why no one else has written such a thing before. Still, I suppose that's what often makes the best writing so compelling: the simplicity of its beauty and presentation. Truly, I loved the content. Admittedly, I only recently have read many of Turchi's examples and outside materials, which helped me feel "in the know," and this definitely added to my enjoyment. That aside, this is still an excellent way--especially for a visual learner--to think about and practice the art of writing. It also helps folks like me whose writing is "found" in the mess that we make on the page. My only qualm is that while many of the maps and illustrations are gorgeous, most don't carry much weight in the context of the book. In fact, many aren't even fully mentioned or discussed; they're simply there. And while I love the idea of images in such a book, I also think that they need to show a purpose beyond simple illustration. But maybe that's just me. In the end, though, for any writer interested in a new way of thinking about writing, or for those of us who try to teach this beast called writing, this is an excellent book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Perry

    I have never read anything like this before. I doubt I will ever read anything quite like it again. To put it bluntly, this book has completely changed the way I think about writing. An elegant and thought-provoking take on the philosophy of the writing process that discusses everything from structure, to blank spaces, to the blind shuffling we do before we carve some kind of path through the wilderness of the imagination. Turchi argues that maps, like books, reveal and conceal particular inform I have never read anything like this before. I doubt I will ever read anything quite like it again. To put it bluntly, this book has completely changed the way I think about writing. An elegant and thought-provoking take on the philosophy of the writing process that discusses everything from structure, to blank spaces, to the blind shuffling we do before we carve some kind of path through the wilderness of the imagination. Turchi argues that maps, like books, reveal and conceal particular information to "guide" the mind. But when to include, and when to exclude? Is there a formula, or is it pure chance that gives meaning to a work of art, that leads without shepherding, that guides without losing the way? Interspersed with a range of curiosities, including intricate (and beautiful) maps, an examination of the Road Runner, and tales from his own life, Peter Turchi gives us his own map of a storyteller's journey, as magical as it is entirely unique. Any writer or explorer who reads this book will be obliged to reach for a higher standard, to delve a little deeper into the unknown.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mmars

    Countless times in my life, upon finishing a book, I've been amazed by the ingenious mind behind a work. Usually I'm more than a bit baffled, often entirely clueless to that author's thought process. I loved this work by Peter Turchi. For me, it was like a piece of a puzzle. For example, paralleling what is left out of maps to what a writer chooses to reveal in their writing and why it was effective for that work not to include too much information. I appreciated that he discussed many kinds of Countless times in my life, upon finishing a book, I've been amazed by the ingenious mind behind a work. Usually I'm more than a bit baffled, often entirely clueless to that author's thought process. I loved this work by Peter Turchi. For me, it was like a piece of a puzzle. For example, paralleling what is left out of maps to what a writer chooses to reveal in their writing and why it was effective for that work not to include too much information. I appreciated that he discussed many kinds of creative writing from poetry and short stories to essays and fiction, as well as non-traditional forms of literature. Being a broad reader that enables me to use the ideas he has put forth to help analyze, comprehend and appreciate nearly everything I peruse! I think this would be a good book for fledgling writers, as a springboard for writer's block, and for any reader wishing to deepen their appreciation for the written word.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paula Koneazny

    Turchi is most interesting when writing about mapping and less so when writing about writing, but then, that's probably just because I've heard/read so many writers talk/write about writing that not much sounds new on that topic. That's the writer in me resisting the workshop, I guess. I did, however, much appreciate Turchi's discussion/ investigation of maps' blank spaces, distortion formulas, and "conventions of illusion." As I am currently intrigued by all things cartographic, I enjoyed the b Turchi is most interesting when writing about mapping and less so when writing about writing, but then, that's probably just because I've heard/read so many writers talk/write about writing that not much sounds new on that topic. That's the writer in me resisting the workshop, I guess. I did, however, much appreciate Turchi's discussion/ investigation of maps' blank spaces, distortion formulas, and "conventions of illusion." As I am currently intrigued by all things cartographic, I enjoyed the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Wakeman

    Turchi's smart talk about how stories work pushed me to think deeper. Very inspiring. Turchi's smart talk about how stories work pushed me to think deeper. Very inspiring.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    "Each of us stands at one unique spot in the universe, at one moment in the expanse of time, holding a blank sheet of paper." "Each of us stands at one unique spot in the universe, at one moment in the expanse of time, holding a blank sheet of paper."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    What an expansive, lyrical, beautifully written juxtaposition of writing and cartography. A truly special book. This was recommended to me by a friend, who not only shares my profession - that of business writer - but is also a cartography afficianado. It is most certainly not a book I would have been likely to discover on my own, and so I am grateful to have received the suggestion. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful writing and explorations - ha! cartography, exploration, get it? What an expansive, lyrical, beautifully written juxtaposition of writing and cartography. A truly special book. This was recommended to me by a friend, who not only shares my profession - that of business writer - but is also a cartography afficianado. It is most certainly not a book I would have been likely to discover on my own, and so I am grateful to have received the suggestion. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful writing and explorations - ha! cartography, exploration, get it? - of what it means to be a writer, nd to chart a course for readers of the world the writer lives in and visualizes. It is a journey well-worth taking! On the first page, the statement: "To ask for a map is to say, "Tell me a story." This sets a tone for the contention that writing, at a fundamental level is in fact in line with the work of the map-makers and cartographers of history. An example given, "Like aboriginal songlines, traditional haiku were deeply codified - to try to appreciate their original intent, modern readers need the equivalent of a map's legend . . ." The book's author clearly has a dual love of both writing and maps, and this comes through clearly and respectfully, sometimes almost reverently in the word-pictures he creates in describing what the writer must, can and tries to do in creating his story. This is the sort of book one frequently stops while reading, to close one's eyes and re-experience a particular passage or idea too substantial to only take in once. In fact it took me much longer than it normally takes for me to read a book with this one, as I realized quite early on that this was a book deserving of my full and undivided attention, so I only read it at times when I was able to dedicate myself fully to the lush and descriptive prose. When a book about writing is able to - convincingly - discuss and draw conclusions on ideas as contradictory as Aristotle and Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner, Treasure Island and Lolita and many others, it is a book worth reading, in my opinion. I found myself both charmed and challenged, entertained and confounded, provoked and educated, but always engrossed. And speaking of lush and descriptive, any review of this book would be remiss not to talk about the maps it includes. The illustrations in this book are stunningly beautiful and they alone make this book worth the cost of its purchase. They are diverse and clever, running the gamut from simple and quirky to minutely detailed and intricately complex. They connect with and complement the discussion of writing and amplify the connection between writing and cartography in a way that, while it began as a surprising alignment, became, by the end of the book such an obvious one that I was surprised I hadn't ever made the connection before. One of my favourite lines in the book perfectly captures the dual messages of the book for me, and I will end my review, and leave anyone considering reading it [which I recommend!] with the author's own words: ". . . every map is a reflection of the individual or group that creates it. By "reading" a map, by studying it, we share, however temporarily, those beliefs. This explains why we can enjoy, collect, and hang on our walls maps of places we've never been and never expect to go to - even places that don't exist. Because the map takes us there."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Conner

    At times I found myself wondering where exactly the author was hoping to go with some of his musings, but ultimately I resigned myself to immersing myself in the language. Mr. Turichi is a wonderful writer. He is insightful and makes useful, constant use of the cartographic analogy with reference to the writing life. Even so, I don't know that this is a god book for aspiring authors so much as it is a critical literary investigation. I wrote done many a fine phrase in my reader-response journal. At times I found myself wondering where exactly the author was hoping to go with some of his musings, but ultimately I resigned myself to immersing myself in the language. Mr. Turichi is a wonderful writer. He is insightful and makes useful, constant use of the cartographic analogy with reference to the writing life. Even so, I don't know that this is a god book for aspiring authors so much as it is a critical literary investigation. I wrote done many a fine phrase in my reader-response journal. For Example: We can never move entirely beyond the limits of our physical confines, or even beyond our perceptions and understanding; but fiction and poetry , in expanding the world of our imagination beyond the world of our experience, allow us a more intimate--and so more thorough, and perhaps more compassionate--imaginative knowledge of our fellow beings than we are likely ever to have in the course of our daily lives. This passage is a bit on the dry side, but there are other, more luscious excerpts I could offer. All in all, worth the read. Also, the book itself is chock-full of fabulous illustrations and maps.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Okay, I’ll be honest. I judged this book by its cover. I was wondering through the shelves at B&N trying to pick up some good books about writing when I spotted this gorgeous book. The metaphor of the brain as a map with specific sections for “reflectives” and “morality” and “acquisitiveness” was beautiful, the colors were rich, and I was instantly smitten. It was also saran-wrapped, so I thought “wow, this book must be special”….and for the most part, it was. His comparisons between writing and Okay, I’ll be honest. I judged this book by its cover. I was wondering through the shelves at B&N trying to pick up some good books about writing when I spotted this gorgeous book. The metaphor of the brain as a map with specific sections for “reflectives” and “morality” and “acquisitiveness” was beautiful, the colors were rich, and I was instantly smitten. It was also saran-wrapped, so I thought “wow, this book must be special”….and for the most part, it was. His comparisons between writing and cartography were often illuminating (providing me with mini ah-ha! moments) but sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed. It was a bit scattered. But, even in that sense, it is like a map in terms of evoking a sense of being lost yet so close to being in the right direction. I guess that was the point of this book, to point out how there are so many techniques to writing (like there are many to map-making) yet they all serve a single purpose, to evoke a view beyond what we can physically see, to guide others and to stir the imagination. At times, it was a little hard to follow but keep with it. It’s worth it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Arun

    Recommended to writers, not as a resource from which to learn more about craft but to look at familiar aspects of craft in a new way. Turchi argument discusses the act of writing as discovery, with historical parallels to humanity's desire to understand and comprehend the world through mapmaking. The craft aspects it discusses are largely concerned with story structure. Turchi uses mostly realist examples to illustrate his points (though there are relevant points for genre writers as well.). For Recommended to writers, not as a resource from which to learn more about craft but to look at familiar aspects of craft in a new way. Turchi argument discusses the act of writing as discovery, with historical parallels to humanity's desire to understand and comprehend the world through mapmaking. The craft aspects it discusses are largely concerned with story structure. Turchi uses mostly realist examples to illustrate his points (though there are relevant points for genre writers as well.). For example, he discusses how stories (like maps) are more defined by what is excluded rather than what is left in. There is no such thing as a 'realistic' map just as there is no such thing as a 'realistic' story, because to include so much information would be to render the story (map) meaningless. Readers of Borges' map story will know what this means. Instead, by their exclusions stories and maps have a distorting effect on reality. Different genres of story emphasize certain truths over others, thereby imparting a unique experience on the reader. The book is filled with little asides like this on writing, but is worth reading for the historical notes on mapmaking and cartography.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    This is a beautiful book for writers and non-writers alike. I mean really I feel like anyone with a pulse would benefit from it. Turchi examines the conventions that map-makers have used over time and how those conventions relate to writing fiction, and the result is a really unique way of looking at storytelling as a whole. Here are a few excerpts that sum up what I mean: "The conflict is, ultimately, between unruly nature and civilization's desire for order, utility, and meaning-making. Do we ad This is a beautiful book for writers and non-writers alike. I mean really I feel like anyone with a pulse would benefit from it. Turchi examines the conventions that map-makers have used over time and how those conventions relate to writing fiction, and the result is a really unique way of looking at storytelling as a whole. Here are a few excerpts that sum up what I mean: "The conflict is, ultimately, between unruly nature and civilization's desire for order, utility, and meaning-making. Do we admire the Navajo basket, not only beautifully designed but also so tightly woven that it can hold water? Or do we prefer nonfunctional pottery, the howls of the Beats, the delirium of Dada, the splatters of Pollack? Do we have to choose? (A glance toward the dance floor: The Talking Heads sang 'Stop Making Sense' to a perfectly rhythmic beat.) Can't we admire both stay-at-home Emily Dickinson and wide-ranging Walt Whitman? Wise Dr. Checkhov and self-destructive Stephen Crane? Flaubert's meticulously considered Madame Bovary and Mark Twain's uncivilized Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with its ill-fitting final quarter, the raft run aground? The wild-eyed riffs of Moby-Dick and the canny constructions of Borges? We can, and will—so long as, whatever its temperament, every map, every story or poem, persuades us of its purpose and justifies its methods." "Whatever our beliefs with regard to God and science, for many of us a belief in God and a belief in the combustion engine are not so far removed. Try explaining to a child why she should believe in the immaculate conception, or Moses bearing the Ten Commandments, but not in Santa Claus; in the benefits of fluoride but not in the Tooth Fairy. The most profound questions of our existence cannot be answered through a mere collection of concrete evidence; at some point, whether we are theologians or automobile mechanics, dentists or draftsmen, each of us reaches a border of the verifiable world, and every one of us leaps. A great deal of what we know, we know only through our imagination—and that knowledge is crucial to our lives." "Ultimately, the route to the greatest knowledge of all that's around us combines an awareness of infinite possibility and the close examination of the individual." "We compile mental maps that are wildly skewed, a mental atlas so large and complex that we can never fully convey it to anyone else. Then we live in the world those maps create." "What we call our Train of Thought is more like a Tornado of Thought—a huge, swirling mass capable of picking up cows, fenceposts, salsa, and talcum powder with no single purpose, yet moving in one general direction at any given moment. Ulysses, like Absalom, Absalom! and 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' Katherine Anne Porter's 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider,' and much of the best modernist work, presents us with a simulated storm of information and experience." "While we might fault Dickens for sentimentality and melodrama, in his large-canvassed novels he sought to represent a world in which many stories are happening at once, stories that intersect directly and indirectly, in ways no one participant can see." "The writers in the Oulipo believe constraints can inspire writers to be creative in new ways; they believe constraints can lead to a kind of freedom." "As writers we need to determine how much of the shape to supply, how clear to make it—and to understand how much work we're asking the reader to do. If we provide too little, we failt o communicate. If we provide too much, there is no room for the imagination. But when we get it right, we're the best of guides, leading the way to a place that allows for the reader's discovery." "The lesson for writers of realism is that the representation of natural shapes is achieved not by abandoning geometry but by embracing a more rigorous geometry. ... (re: Chuck Jones of Wile E. Coyote / Roadrunner cartoons) he pushed further and further into a stylized American Southwest, until it became otherworldly."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaleidograph

    Some other reviewer kicked off their evaluation of this book with something along the lines of "a writer writing about writing - I was prepared for this to be masturbatory but honestly!" Well, I suppose they had a point... The spatial metaphor is very pervasive in human thinking: where did we go wrong? Can we find out along the way? What is at the centre of this? Where did that idea come from? Of course much of our physical surroundings is located and codified on maps these days, but still we wou Some other reviewer kicked off their evaluation of this book with something along the lines of "a writer writing about writing - I was prepared for this to be masturbatory but honestly!" Well, I suppose they had a point... The spatial metaphor is very pervasive in human thinking: where did we go wrong? Can we find out along the way? What is at the centre of this? Where did that idea come from? Of course much of our physical surroundings is located and codified on maps these days, but still we would be very surprised, if a person responded to any of these decidedly non-georgaphical questions by pulling out a map, triumphantly placing a finger on a certain spot and saying "my love for you? Well, of course, it is right here!" That deliciously absurd notion of mapping out something as woolly and abstract as emotions in a simple topographic projection is the poetophilosophical genious that underlies such creations as La carte de Tendre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map_of_...) which have excerted an ardent fascination on me ever since I encountered the "genre". Ultimately, it is stories, abstract but superbly human and meaningful structures made conrete, a visual architecture or topology of thought - I find that notion highly intriguing both intellectually and aesthetically and naturally went looking for kindred spirits in the literary world. When I originally discovered Maps of the Imagination, I thought I had found it. But while the book does many things, it does not satisfaactorily celebrate or discuss the visual mapping of human thought. Judging by other reviews, I was not the only one who picked up this book with expectations set up to eventually jar with the contents of it. Some have been drawn to it by the many beautiful maps used as illustrations only to find that most of them are only superficially, passingly and anecdotally referenced in the text. Others may have expected a rigorous comparative analysis of two trades, the cartographer and the writer; or perhaps a useful dissection of the occupation of writing by means of the mapping metaphore. The book is none of these things. It is a leisurely stroll, touching on this and that, lazily expanding the metaphorical connection between writing and cartography in the most abstract ways, lining up transitions from one quotation to the next without any real punch or goal other than idle musings on this or that aspect of the metaphor. I did really enjoy parts of it for making me aware of things and establishing clever connections: the fragmented poetry of Sappho for example (and the analogy to blank spaces on the map), the connection between the Oulipo and the Roadrunner cartoons as two very different but equally exemplifying experiments in creative storytelling under rigorous formal restraints, the analogy between geometric projections in cartography and the differences writing styles (and how the most conventional ones obscure the fact that they are still by definition distortive). All of that was interesting, but ultimately there was a bit too much restless hopping from one quotation to the next, a bit too little meat to it over all. I suppose I was hoping for, if not a complete mindfuck, then at least a passionate grapple and perhaps a few bursting climaxes of realization. Instead, it was mostly just langerous fiddling around, a sensuous aimless playing with connections in the grass, a casual touching of parts - a beautiful book perhaps, but alas, a masturbatory exploration, yes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Franco Alvarado

    As someone who loves maps and writing, I was surprised to find something that intersected the two topics so well. I've been working on revising my novel, and it helped to see the writing process in another perspective. To be honest though, I did skim the last few chapters because the metaphor was wearing thin and didn't do much to add to the central thesis. Eventually it became less about writing. I think the author lost me somewhere past 100 pages where he jabs at video games as a medium for tw As someone who loves maps and writing, I was surprised to find something that intersected the two topics so well. I've been working on revising my novel, and it helped to see the writing process in another perspective. To be honest though, I did skim the last few chapters because the metaphor was wearing thin and didn't do much to add to the central thesis. Eventually it became less about writing. I think the author lost me somewhere past 100 pages where he jabs at video games as a medium for two sentences and one snarky footnote and then doesn't address the subject again. It honestly would've been better if the book hadn't addressed video games at all. It really took me out of it. The author literally writes two lines about it and it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the paragraph. The two lines can be skipped over and the rest of the paragraph makes as much sense. It's as if though he had a vendetta against video games and the question of whether they are a legitimate artform and just really needed to skewer it. I don't play video games at all, but it just seemed weirdly petty. Anyway, the metaphor wears thin after some time for me, but it's worth a check-out at the library if you're into writing, theory, and maps. If you're working on something narrative, it really helps to take a different view of the writing process.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel B-G

    A decent metaphor pushed to the cusp of disintegration. Of central issue with the book, the theme is an organising principle to gather together an array of thoughts about writing, and not a coherent thesis that develops a conclusion. That isn't to say some of the insights contained within are not fascinating, many are, but the book lacks that interconnectedness and coherence that make the information easy to absorb. Information is not structured in a way that makes it accessible, which is a nega A decent metaphor pushed to the cusp of disintegration. Of central issue with the book, the theme is an organising principle to gather together an array of thoughts about writing, and not a coherent thesis that develops a conclusion. That isn't to say some of the insights contained within are not fascinating, many are, but the book lacks that interconnectedness and coherence that make the information easy to absorb. Information is not structured in a way that makes it accessible, which is a negative in my book, though if you like your writing meandering and with it's intent and purpose at times verging on cryptic, this may be for you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Britz

    I was reading this book for a class on writing. I found myself disagreeing with Mr. Turchi and having my eyes glaze over the majority of the time. Not only did I not finish the book, I dropped the class. Turchi gives the majority of his time dwelling on the minutia of map making and its history, some of which was opinion and not fact. The bottom line is this book did not give me any new insights on the writing practice. It did, however induce some nice naps!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ty

    Some of the ideas and metaphors between creativity and mapping are not quite as unique as the book seems to think they are. Also at times the language is more dense than it needs to be. (After all, a map of this sort should be accessible to all.) Nevertheless, and intriguing concept, and a motivating read in many ways. Plus some fun cartography history on the side. I'd recommend it for creative types. Some of the ideas and metaphors between creativity and mapping are not quite as unique as the book seems to think they are. Also at times the language is more dense than it needs to be. (After all, a map of this sort should be accessible to all.) Nevertheless, and intriguing concept, and a motivating read in many ways. Plus some fun cartography history on the side. I'd recommend it for creative types.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Many, many small but very intriguing maps. Lots of quotes from my favorite authors and some who may become favorites. Several reviewers seem to think a spacial analogy is a new thing for writing. I recently finished Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought by Barbara Tversky. She holds that the origin of language itself is in movement and that maps precede written language. I enjoyed Turchi very much but don't find the basic concept very new. Many, many small but very intriguing maps. Lots of quotes from my favorite authors and some who may become favorites. Several reviewers seem to think a spacial analogy is a new thing for writing. I recently finished Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought by Barbara Tversky. She holds that the origin of language itself is in movement and that maps precede written language. I enjoyed Turchi very much but don't find the basic concept very new.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adrienna

    This was a very interesting perspective on writing and how to craft a story. I really enjoyed the maps and geometry in the book. It gave me a lot of creative ideas and thoughts on how to write or start a new project or story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Russ

    There is so much interesting information in this book about mapping and the creative process. It was a very interesting read. I'm not giving it 5 stars, however, because it was often difficult to see how the author connected the information back to the writing process itself. There is so much interesting information in this book about mapping and the creative process. It was a very interesting read. I'm not giving it 5 stars, however, because it was often difficult to see how the author connected the information back to the writing process itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zeynep Şen

    Gets a bit repetitive sometimes, if I'm being honest. But still a very intelligent read with a unique, original approach to literature Gets a bit repetitive sometimes, if I'm being honest. But still a very intelligent read with a unique, original approach to literature

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Ann

    A pleasant and thoughtful read on the similarities between the processes of writing and mapmaking.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Pope

    Read this one as part of my research, how to write from the landscape. Great book, covers a huge range of subjects.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dillon Butvin

    This book took me a long time to read, but every time I picked it up it was wonderful. It is deep, challenging, and fun. Lovely, really. It is choppy, like the ocean. And worth the traverse.

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