The Art of Mystery

The Art of Mystery
The Search for Questions
Maud Casey

“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

“Books on writing should be inspiring and should remind writers—and readers—why we fell in love with stories in the first place. The Art of Mystery does just this.”The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)

About the Book

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 others. 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.


Additional Reviews

“A rich survey looking beyond the usual academic treatment, for writers and readers alike.”Library Journal, starred review

“This slim but astute volume is an inducement both to read more deeply and to head for ever more unchartered, frozen, mysterious waters.”Kirkus Reviews

“[Maud Casey’s] analysis illuminates the behind-the-scenes work authors do to cultivate a seemingly effortless air of mystery. . . . Those seeking to understand how to bring the ineffable into their own writing would do well to start here.”Publishers Weekly

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