Madeline Sunley

New maps are hard to read.

28 Jan 1999

You were talking about innovative writing as mapping interior worlds, and how important it is to engage more people in reading it. Why don't they engage?

Innovative writing is not readily accessible because it does not use conventional interior mapping strategies. It is new maps, and new maps are hard to read. (Remember your first attempts at mapping your childhood neighborhood from above? At interpreting a topographical map?)

The reader must take time, and expend effort, trusting that the author/mapmaker actually has something to reveal.

The crux: can I take this strange author seriously? Is there a real world, a terrain worth mapping, in the map? Is there anything at all beneath the surface? Will my effort be worthwhile?

Or is this a clever hoax? Written by someone with a strange style but no substance? Am I being fooled? If I write about it, will I look foolish?

"The map is not the territory." But without trusting the map, we may never see the living terrain.

Bio: Madeline Sunley is a visual artist and manages a bookstore in San Francisco. She was formerly Acquisition Editor for environmental books at MIT Press.

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