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Building Fiction
Building Fiction

No one looks at structure like Jesse Lee Kercheval. She builds a work of fiction just as an architect would design a house-with an eye for details and how all parts of a story or novel interconnect. Even with the most dynamic language, images, and characters, no piece of fiction will work without a strong infrastructure. Kercheval shows how to build that structure using such tools as point of view, characterization, pacing, and flashbacks. Building Fiction will help you envision the landscape of your fiction and build great stories.

Building Fiction was first published in 1997 by Story Press (ISBN 1-884910-28-9). It is now available from the University of Wisconsin Press (ISBN 0-299-18724-1).

Reviews can be found here, and the book can be purchased here.

Space cover

Winner of the Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Looking back at a time when America was on the brink of all the big changes coming by way of Apollo 11, The Feminine Mystique, and the Vietnam War, this high-spirited memoir focuses on what it was like back then--for a girl.

Jesse Lee Kercheval opens her story in 1966 when she was a precocious ten-year old girl whose family moves from Washington, D.C. to Cocoa, Florida. Bedroom community to the rocket launchers, Cocoa was a town rising out of a swamp, a city of the future being built out of concrete block and hope. Alligators still wandered across the newly paved subdivision streets, and civilization was based on the twin luxuries of central air-conditioning and mosquito control.

Living in their brand-new house in a brand-new development (called Lunar Heights), the Kerchevalís--father, mother, two little girls, tried to ride the Space Raceís tide of optimism. But even as the rockets kept going up, the Kercheval family was spiraling down. Father hid out at work while Mother overdosed her depression and Jesse Lee and her sister, Carol, hovered at the edge of the nest, having to try their wings too early and too alone. By the end of the book, America has flown to the moon but the Kercheval family, weighed down by the realities of life on earth, has crashed.

Weaving domestic and public concerns, this brilliant rendering of an era juxtaposes the sensibilities of a young woman poised at the edge of adulthood (hilariously, touchingly so) and those of a whole country poised on the edge of things equally frightening--the future of NASA, the outcome of the war and womanís lib.

Space was published in hardback by Algonquin Books in 1998 (ISBN 1-56512-146-5) and in paperback by Berkley in 1999 (ISBN 0-42516-683-X).
Space is being reissued by the University of Wisconsin Press in paperback and as an e-book in spring 2014.

Reviews can be found here.