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Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer Paperback – August 28, 2007


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Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer + You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination + The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Trinity University Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595340416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595340412
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Maps of the Imagination . . . is an extended metaphor--not as far reaching as, say, Moby-Dick, but remarkably and satisfyingly meandering." -- Speakeasy, Oct. 2004

"Peter Turchi’s associative style leaps from fanciful fiction to the most sensible of maps. . . ." -- New York Arts Magazine, November/December

"Turchi's book, like any good map, tells us where we are and urges us to discover more." -- Charlotte Observer, Sept. 24, 2004 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I really enjoyed reading this book, and I still browse through it from time to time for inspiration.
B. Cooper
These maps serve as a reminder of one of the central points of the book: cartography and writing both choose what to illuminate and what to ignore.
Nadyne Richmond
Throughout the book, Turchi reinforces the point that cartography is an excellent metaphor for the way writers think, write, and revise.
Jason Fisher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By JAL on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to know how to categorize this book: is it an art book or a book about writing? It's both, of course, and the text is very well-written, it's worth mulling over. But the genius of the book is its beautiful design and its inclusion of hundreds of illustrations. This is the kind of idiosyncratic book that drives bookstore staff mad - they never can figure out where to shelve it. The making of a map of the imagination is more than a metaphor, though thinking about "discovery and exploration" as metaphors for creativity is not exactly new. Beyond the metaphor, though, a writer's mapmaking is both necessary and practical - the mapping out of a work of fiction or of a poem, the actual exploration and plotting of a narrative arc, the sense that the writer is both guided by the mapmaking and providing a guide to his readers. Fascinating stuff, and truly beautiful and full of SO MANY extraordinary illustrations. It's one-of-a-kind, and worth purchasing. Pick it up and be seduced.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By K. S. Karshna on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book defies genre. It is an examination of the correlation between writers and map-makers. If you love maps, and want to incorporate some of that passion into your writing, this is the book for you. I find myself coming back to it frequently, like a reference book on how to write the sort of story I'd like to read.

Especially interesting is the portion of the book devoted to the empty spaces on maps.

I can't resist Turchi's wonderful phrases, such as:

"...a blank on a map becomes a symbol of rigorous standards; the presence of absences lent authority to all on the map that was unblank."

Brilliant.

It will take you on a journey. And the book is lovely to look at and hold.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jason Fisher on December 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a terrific book! I read this around the same time I undertook Cowan's Mapmaker's Dream (which I have also reviewed on Amazon), and the two books -- ostensibly on similar subjects -- could not be more different!

Turchi's book is a genuine treasure! His prose is wonderful, full of rich images and musical language throughout. It could easily serve (and probably has done) as the text for a creative writing course, and there are thought-provoking passages on just about every page. The illustrations, too, as a prior reviewer has noted, are beautiful and fascinating. Turchi has unearthed kinds of maps I'd never conceived of before, placing them alongside medieval mappaemundi, early political maps, upside-down maps, maps drawn by children, maps drawn from memory -- you name it! Throughout the book, Turchi reinforces the point that cartography is an excellent metaphor for the way writers think, write, and revise. And as obvious a metaphor as you might be tempted to think that is, Turchi continues to surprise and delight with his imaginative insights, page after page.

The book, too, is an absolute jewel (I'm speaking of the first edition hardcover here). The perfect weight, with heavy boards bound in cloth and a sewn binding; the perfect paper weight, highly readable type, and excellent use of color throughout. This is how all books should be made.

I can't rave enough about it. Check it out for yourself, and I don't see how you could be disappointed. The only real disappointment comes when you turn the last page and find no others to follow it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nadyne Richmond VINE VOICE on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a writer, not in any meaningful sense. I am a reader, and I deeply admire writers who can immerse me in their story.

I received this book as a gift from someone who I respect. It seemed an odd gift, but now I understand it. This is one of the best non-fiction books that I've read in quite a long time. In this book, Turchi gives us a fascinating and engaging extended essay about writing. He compares it to the art and science of cartography, pointing out the myriad and unexpected ways in which cartography and writing are similar.

While the idea is an interesting one, Turchi makes it all the more approachable through the examples and quotes that he sprinkles liberally throughout the book. This is possibly the only book that references both the storytelling of "Lolita" as well as that found within the Road Runner cartoons that I grew up with. I found myself constantly writing down more books, stories, and poems that I needed to read, based on how they were discussed herein. Many of them are books that I've been meaning to read, such as "Treasure Island", others are authors that I've heard discussed before but never in a way that made me want to rush out and read them.

The book is full of maps, ranging from early maps of the world to a map drawn by the author's son showing locations in town for street luge. These maps serve as a reminder of one of the central points of the book: cartography and writing both choose what to illuminate and what to ignore. I remember annotating a map with landmarks that I found useful, which tells you just as much about what I found useful at the time as it tells you about what I didn't find useful at the time.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. I feel like I need to send a copy of it to every writer I know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carlo Muttoni on August 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes to get lost in the thick forest of words, beautifully arranged by the author, to take you through uncharted territories. You'll be introduced to a magic world where maps, stories, life and time are blended into a mind galaxy. Peter Turchi is a gifted writer, full of wit, imagination and knowledge. More than a book, it's a journey into text and its endless possibilities. Don't miss it!
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