A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic

Peter Turchi. Trinity Univ., $29.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-59534-193-8
Turchi follows up Maps of the Imagination, which connected writing and cartography, by exploring the links between artistic creation and puzzle making and solving. While presenting different kinds of puzzles–from disappearing magic tricks to elaborate labyrinths–Turchi shows how writer and magician alike use self-presentation and withheld information to transport us to a “state of wonder” and “invite us to think about something... worthy of extended consideration.” He surveys a varied array of artists, from Chekhov to Mark Twain, Norman Rockwell to Alison Bechdel, dissecting both life and work in order to illuminate the book’s overarching themes. One of the most intriguing is the distinction between puzzles and true mystery, the latter of which has a defining element of the unknowable. Although Turchi’s knack for drawing connections can seem like a sleight of hand in itself, his writing is consistently engaging, lively, and thought provoking. The interactive element is also a delight, as there are actual puzzles scattered throughout (answers are provided in the back) to demonstrate the challenges and rewards offered by puzzles—and by good writing. And though Turchi’s volume seems most tailored to writers, readers and puzzle lovers should find much of value as well. 100 color and b&w illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/25/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Ebook - 248 pages - 978-1-59534-194-5
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-1-59534-759-6
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