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

By Peter Turchi

Well, there are few helpful reviews of this one. But I have another book by Turchi — Maps of the Imagination: Writer as Cartographer — which I’ve flipped through just enough to have some idea of the author’s style. This book, as with Writer as Cartographer, seems to have a creative, whimsical flair, drawing on diverse inspirations and areas of study to explore what the act of writing is like; of what strange wonders the job and journey of the writer consists.

“Turchi draws out the similarities between writing and puzzle-making and its flip-side, puzzle-solving. As he teases out how mystery lies at the heart of all storytelling, he uncovers the magic—the creation of credible illusion—that writers share with the likes of Houdini and master magicians.” In this exploration, he “reveals as much about the human psyche as he does about the literary imagination and the creative process.”

There’s material about patterns, treasure hunting, labyrinths, magic and poetry, games and puzzles and difficulty. It’s rather hard to categorize, but seems quite playful and wide-ranging in its spirit of curiosity (and multidimensional love of writing).

“Turchi invites us to think about books as mysteries unfolding in time, giving us clues that we piece together.” Not only is it “a labyrinth of reflection”, it also contains interactive elements — “actual puzzles scattered throughout” the text.

He’s among our “foremost thinkers on the art of writing”, and the book is both fun to read and useful for aspiring writers: “a brilliant book on writing craft, providing the reader with a new way to think about composing fiction.” Sounds good to me!

Additional information:

  • ISBN: 978-1595341938
  • Publisher: Trinity University Press

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* Independent online book marketplaces. While these sites are often lighter on data / reviews, and thus not the first place to go to learn about a book, they're a great place to actually purchase!