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Meander, Spiral, Explode
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About the Author

Jane Alison is the author of a memoir, The Sisters Antipodes, and four novels: The Love-Artist, The Marriage of the Sea, Natives and Exotics, and Nine Island. She is also the translator of Ovid's stories of sexual transformation, Change Me. She is professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville. Find out more at www.janealison.com.

Reviews

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 A Poets & Writers Best Books for Writers

Alison's close readings can be exhilarating. One of her more seductive ideas is the notion of possible 'correlations between kinds of stories and certain patterns, ' as when reflective first-person novels adopt the spiral . . . Alison's prose is potent and lush, her enthusiasm infectious . . . The fecundity of Alison's writing is of a piece with her larger mission: to turn narrative theory into a supersaturated mindfuck of hedonistic extravaganza. It is a special kind of literary criticism. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

A playful, insightful taxonomy of narratives that while seeming to defy categorization, in fact take their innovative structures from patterns found in nature: fractals, cells, wavelets, and more . . . A thought-provoking manual for writers, critics, and casual readers alike. --The Atlantic, One of the Best Books of the Year You don't have to be a professional writer to enjoy novelist Jane Alison's brilliant new craft guide Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative, published by Catapult Press. Anyone who reads stands to appreciate her argument that the primary way most of us are taught that fiction ought to be structured Freytag's famous triangle is neither the best nor the only method. Kathleen Rooney, Chicago Tribune Transformative . . . This book will introduce you to works you've never heard of, and also change your interpretation of better-known stories; Alison's reading of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, for instance, pushes the novel's symmetrical structure beyond gimmick and into something sublime. The questions many of these texts ask, Alison points out, are not 'what happens next?' but 'why did this happen?' and 'what grows in my mind as I read?' Maddie Oatman, Mother Jones How lovely to discover a book on the craft of writing that is also fun to read. Australian author Jane Alison has written a great one in which she urges us to abandon or at least improve upon the traditional story arc that has dominated fiction since the age of Aristotle. Alison asserts that the best stories follow patterns in nature, and by defining these new styles she offers writers the freedom to explore but with enough guidance to thrive. Maris Kreizman, Vulture Jane Alison's book on craft calls into question the dramatic arc many writers have been taught to follow in their work . . . Alison presents a 'museum of specimens' including writing by Anne Carson, Raymond Carver, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jamaica Kincaid, Clarice Lispector, and Mary Robison, to illustrate some of the possibilities for nonlinear storytelling and she invites her readers to follow these examples to 'keep making our novels novel.' Poets & Writers, One of the Best Book for Writers "Meander, Spiral, Explode is the best craft book I've read in years; it questions the primacy of the arc-shaped narrative and presents a series of alternative ones, using for examples and this is no accident some of the best books in modern literature . . . It'll blow your mind." Emily Temple, Literary Hub

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