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With his characteristic talent for finding connections between writing and the stuff of our lives, Peter Turchi ventures into new and even more surprising territory. In A Muse and a Maze, 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 magicthe creation of credible illusionthat writers share with the likes of Houdini and master magicians. In Turchi’s associative narrative, we learn about the history of puzzles, their obsessive quality, and that Benjamin Franklin was a devotee of an ancient precursor of sudoku called Magic Squares. Applying this rich backdrop to the requirements of writing, Turchi reveals as much about the human psyche as he does about the literary imagination and the creative process.
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; a collection of stories, Magician; and The Pirate Prince, cowritten with Cape Cod treasure hunter Barry Clifford, about Clifford's discovery of the pirate ship Whydah. 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.
Table of Contents
The Contemplation of Recurring Patterns 1. Directions for Attaining Knowledge of All Dark Things 2. Disturbing Strangeness and the Composer’s Dream 3. Seven Clever Pieces 4. The Treasure Hunter’s Dilemma 5. The Line, the Pyramid, and the Labyrinth 6. The Pleasures of Difficulty Sources and Solutions