RaveThe Times Literary Supplement...invigorating ... [seeks] the elegant forms that order nature in the structures of stories and novels. [Alison\'s] bugbear is the dramatic arc, the shape that Aristotle noticed in the tragedies of his time but that has become a tyrant of creative writing instruction ... Alison has other ideas for excitement ... In brief, compelling meditations on contemporary fiction, she teases out figures we might expect to spy from a plane window or in the heart of a tree. Here are corkscrews and wavelets and fractals and networks of cells. Is this forced? Alison recognizes the cheekiness of her project, knows her readings of form may not convince every reader. Her aim is not to classify tales, to pin them like butterflies on a styrofoam board ... Shapes appear in Alison’s mind as clusters of images, so what begins as literary analysis condenses into a small poem. For “meander”, Alison asks us to \'picture a river curving and kinking, a snake in motion, a snail’s silver trail, or the path left by a goat\' ... The point is not ornamentation, though Alison can write a sentence lush enough to drown in, but tempting fiction writers to render life more closely. Against the grand tragedy of the narrative arc, she proposes small undulations: \'Dispersed patterning, a sense of ripple or oscillation, little ups and downs, might be more true to human experience than a single crashing wave\'. These are the shifting moods of a single day, the temporary loss of the house keys, the sky a sunnier hue than expected.