Lives of Mapmakers
Alicia L. Conroy's stories stretch the boundaries of form and language to demarcate an imaginary territory of her own devising. The characters in Lives of Mapmakers—whether a contemporary farm worker or a sixteenth-century cartographer—seek direction in their lives. Their journeys are ethereal and magical: the discovery of a prairie mermaid exposes the best and worst in people, teenagers puzzle over their bodies' changing geographies and, in the title story, a mapmaker's quest to perfect his worldview becomes part of a narrative fabric that spans centuries. Conroy experiments with the contour of language, working in nontraditional narrative forms. She etches crosshatched landscapes in which her protagonists must make decisions whose consequences are beyond their immediate comprehension. Her inventive and off-center use of metaphor and myth ultimately open our eyes to the beauty and struggle occurring in the quotidian world around us.
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