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


Product Details

$29.95  $27.55
Trinity University Press
Publish Date
6.7 X 1.1 X 8.3 inches | 1.6 pounds
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About the Author

Called one of the country's foremost thinkers on the art of writing by the Houston Chronicle, Peter Turchi's books include Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer; Suburban Journals: The Sketchbooks, Drawings, and Prints of Charles Ritchie, in collaboration with the artist; a novel, The Girls Next Door; and a collection of stories, Magician. Turchi's short story Night, Truck, Two Lights Burning, listed as one of 100 Notable Stories of 2002 by the editors of Best American Short Stories and one of 15 Recommended Stories by the jury for the O. Henry Prize Stories, has been published in Arabic and, in English, combined with images by Charles Ritchie, in a limited edition artist's book. He has also coedited, with Andrea Barrett, A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft and The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work; and, with Charles Baxter, Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life. Turchi's stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Story, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, and the Colorado Review. He has received Washington College's Sophie Kerr Prize, an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, North Carolina's Sir Walter Raleigh Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. From 1993 to 2008 he directed the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. Turchi recently taught at Arizona State University, where he was director of the creative writing program, and he's currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston.


"Turchi invites us to think about books as mysteries unfolding in time, giving us clues that we piece together."---- Washington Post

"One of the country's foremost thinkers on the art of writing....Turchi argues that writers are like magicians who aim to lead us to a state of wonder."---- Houston Chronicle

"Altogether stimulating."---- Brain Pickings

"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....Readers and puzzle lovers should find much of value."---- Publishers Weekly

"My favorite book about literature. . . . Anyone who likes books should read it."---- Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes

"A brilliant book on writing craft, providing the reader with a new way to think about composing fiction. It's also simply a delight to read-smart, well organized, and full of muscular writing and funny anecdotes."---- Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown

"The wide-ranging connections Turchi draws are convincing, provocative, and not infrequently funny, drawing the reader into a labyrinth of reflection where each turn brings a new surprise."---- Santa Fe New Mexican

"He's done it again. Peter Turchi, the best-selling author who inspires artists, designers, and anyone trying to understand how to capture an audience's imagination through storytelling, has written a book that aligns the art of literature with puzzle creation and illusions."---- World Literature Today

"Turchi combines puzzles and discussions of magic tricks as well as conventional literary analysis to show how arranging information to deepen the sense of mystery can make writing more interesting."---- Chicago Reader

"A glorious craft book--absolutely delightful."-- -- Julia Larios

"Full of lush illustrations, embedded puzzles, and notes on Harry Houdini, Alison Bechdel, tangrams, labyrinths, and sudoku."-- Fiction Advocate

"To leave readers slightly bewildered, to leave them with some questions answered but also with the understanding that other questions are unanswerable, to challenge readers to be satisfied with uncertainty - that's exactly what Turchi encourages in this book."-- NumΓ©ro Cinq

"But as much as A Muse & a Maze seeks to explore the inner workings of the craft of writing, the book isn't interested in pulling aside the curtain on the art form's intrinsic wondrousness. If anything, Turchi's collection of citations, motivations, riddles and games yields as many questions as it answers."-- Mountain Xpress

"Informed and informative....thoughtful and thought provoking."-- Midwest Book Review

"Turchi combines puzzles and discussions of magic tricks as well as conventional literary analysis to show how arranging information to deepen the sense of mystery can make writing more interesting."-- Chicago Reader

"The tension between these concepts--puzzle and mystery--forms the center of Turchi's learned, funny, and uncategorizable book, part writing guide, part literary criticism, and part playful compendium of tricks, games, and problems."-- Colorado Review

"In A Muse and a Maze, Peter Turchi skillfully draws the reader through some of the most fundamental and challenging questions that writers face, tricking us into learning more about ourselves and our writing process by making us think we are learning about something unrelated to writing: games and puzzles. But herein lies the brilliance of his approach--we drop our writerly defenses and open ourselves to receiving information via a new angle, and before we know it, revelations about writing and process become apparent."-- Brooklyn Rail

"A Muse and A Maze offers sharp insights into the craft of writing, illuminating the process of puzzle-making and mystery-building that makes reading novels so absorbing and rewarding. "-- West and Grand