Teaser Tuesday: The Art of Mystery

Like the long-awaited release of a new book by a favorite author, the Wheel of Time has turned ‘round to Teaser Tuesday. 

You might remember last week I picked up a few books from the library. Well, when I returned one of those books I just couldn’t help myself from checking out the New Releases shelf, where I found another book from Graywolf Press’ “The Art of . . .” Series. This time, it’s The Art of Mystery: The Search for Questions by Maud Casey.

The Goodreads Blurb:

A sensitive and nuanced exploration of a seldom-discussed subject by an acclaimed novelist.

The fourteenth volume in the Art of series conjures an ethereal subject: the idea of mystery in fiction. Mystery is not often discussed―apart from the genre―because, as Maud Casey says, “It’s not easy to talk about something that is a whispered invitation, a siren song, a flickering light in the distance.” Casey, the author of several critically acclaimed novels, reaches beyond the usual tool kit of fictional elements to ask the question: Where does mystery reside in a work of fiction? She takes us into the Land of Un―a space of uncertainty and unknowing―to find out and looks at the variety of ways mystery is created through character, image, structure, and haunted texts, including the novels of Shirley Jackson, Paul Yoon, J. M. Coetzee, and more. Casey’s wide-ranging discussion encompasses spirit photography, the radical nature of empathy, and contradictory characters, as she searches for questions rather than answers. The Art of Mystery is a striking and vibrant addition to the much-loved Art of series.

The Truly Random Number Generator sends us to page 99:

Imagery in fiction defies logic. It defies conclusion. It is its own variety of spirit portraiture; around its crisp edges hover all sorts of ghosts. The ghosts of history, the ghosts of war, the ghosts of ourselves, the ghosts of things for which we have no name.  


The Art of Mystery Cover

Four Stars to Frankenstein: How a Monster became an Icon by Sidney Perkowitz and Eddy von Mueller

This collection of essays is itself like Frankenstein. Made a disparate parts, the volume nonetheless lives with the importance of Mary Shelley’s classic, detailing not only how it has helped shape human thought and culture, but also how now, in the 21st Century, life imitates art.

This book also mirrors the many retellings of Frankenstein. As each movie takes a little from the original and then adds other twists and features, so do the essays. Themes are revisited from different angles, topics and ideas are introduced and then veer off in original ways, and – at times – the reader wonders if the book is self-aware, self-referencing.

From the philosophy of morality and ethics to CRISPR gene editing to Mel Brook’s classic film Young Frankenstein, these essays provide the reader with a wide range of reading that can be enjoyed not just for Frankenstein’s 200th birthday, but for many years to come.

What are you reading today?

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