Yesterday I started reading Peter Turchi’s Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer (2004). It’s been on my radar for a while. I love maps–I’ve written several books about cartography–and was curious about how Turchi would handle the metaphor of the book as map. The immediate catalyst for getting Maps of the Imagination from the library was seeing it cited in Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife.
I am finding it a satisfyingly chewy read. Here’s an early example:
Discussing the idea that a story is unexplored before it is written and thus presents overwhelming opportunities, Turchi notes, “This explains why it can be so difficult for beginning writers to embrace thorough revision–which is to say, to fully embrace exploration. The desire to cling to that first path through the wilderness is both a celebration of initial discovery and fear of the vast unknown.”
The last thing I did last night was glance at Turchi’s afterword, which describes the genesis of and influences on the book. He mentions “the work of Edward Tufte,” which rang a bell. I had come across a reference to Tufte quite recently, but where and what?
I looked at the facing page, which is the last past of Turchi’s bibliography, to see if Tufte were cited. When I saw a citation for Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information I remembered that my friend Magda had tweeted last week about finding an online edition of that work.
Then I happened to glance up the page and saw my own name. Turchi included my Young Oxford Guide to Maps and Mapmaking (Oxford University Press, 1995) in his biblio. Made me proud.
Maps and Mapmaking was the longest nonfiction book I’ve written to date, 900+ pages in manuscript, and one of the most challenging, but also one of my favorites. Advances in cartographic technology have rendered out of date the parts of the book that deal with contemporary mapmaking. The sections on the history of cartography and on important maps and mapmakers, though, were near and dear to my heart.
I just ordered a copy of Maps of the Imagination for my shelves. From Powell’s, not Amazon. I had to add a bunch more books to the order to meet the $50 threshold for free shipping, but that, alas for my budget, is never a problem.