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The Art of Mystery

The Search for Questions

Maud Casey

Graywolf Press

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ISBN10: 1555977944
ISBN13: 9781555977948


160 Pages



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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.


Praise for The Art of Mystery

“Ms. Casey summarizes the plots of her selected texts copiously, but her abiding message brings confidence that she hasn’t given too much away.”The Wall Street Journal

"A slim but substantial exploration of the concept of mystery in literature."Shelf Awareness

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Maud Casey

Maud Casey is the author of three novels, most recently The Man Who Walked Away, and a story collection, Drastic. She is the grateful recipient of the Italo Calvino Prize, the St. Francis College Literary Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Washington, D.C. and teaches at the University of Maryland.