Jane Alison’s Mender, Spiral, Explode, is a nonfiction, creative writing guidebook for both writers and avid readers alike. Alison argues that there are multiple ways to craft a narrative, other than the Aristotelian “masculo-sexual arc” we have all come to know and love. Narratives can follow many patterns that we see in nature, like the spiral, the fractal, or even the meandering trail of snails. Alison provides examples from multiple contemporary works of fiction to prove her premise, including Murray Bail’s Eucalyptus, Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, and Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. Starting each part with a personal reflection, Alison connects her own experience with these patterns to further validate their influence on human life. Through exquisite vocabulary that fuels a powerful, humorous, and direct work, Jane Alison’s Mender, Spiral, Explode is a must-read for those who admire pattern and design in any narrative.
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison. Catapult, April 2019.
Reviewer bio: Anthony DiAntonio is a high school English teacher at Cumberland County Technical Education Center in New Jersey. He is also currently studying for his Masters in Writing Arts at Rowan University. To achieve his Masters, he will be completing a novel focused on mindfulness, positivity, and moving forward from emotional trauma.
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