Published on September 25th, 2013 | by Katy Evans3
Author hero Ursula K. Le Guin in Puyallup (nearly Tacoma)
The proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.
Le Guin, like every good author I uncovered as a child, was a revelation – each book a huge door swinging wide to new worlds, ideas, and ways of being.
Though unlike many authors I fell in love with as a kid, the revelations from Le Guin followed me through high school, college, and stay with me today.
I don’t love – like I love family – a lot of authors, but Le Guin is one I do truly love.
And yes, she’s massively important, one of the greatest living American novelists; and yes, she’s dizzyingly prolific; and yes, she navigates multiple genres with enviable ease; and yes all those factors are probably reasons why I love her.
But mostly I love her because I love how it feels to read Ursula K. Le Guin.
Says author Junot Díaz of Le Guin:
I read her nonstop growing up and read her still. What makes her so extraordinary for me is that her commitment to the consequences of our actions, of our all too human frailties, is unflinching and almost without precedent for a writer of such human optimism. She never turns away from how flinty the heart of the world is. It gives her speculations a resonance, a gravity that few writers, mainstream or generic, can match.
This sentiment, among so many of the powerful quotes from “important” contemporary writers about Le Guin’s enduring influence, reflects just how I feel too.
Le Guin’s “unflinching resonant speculation” always rings both new and true when I read her works, and yet her examinations remain humane, run through with a wisdom and kindness that is exceedingly and increasingly rare. Says Le Guin “Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books.” And Ursula K. Le Guin writes good, true books.
(And yes, I love her because I love feminist science fiction; no matter how many critical noses turn up at the mention of “speculative fiction” or how many siloed authors regularly transcend the genre unacknowledged, its still the best genre with which to be associated, and she’s basically the mother of it.)
So if you like seeing giants of literature in real life, you have no excuse not to swing by Puyallup (of all places) this weekend. Ursula K. Le Guin is reading, speaking, and signing at the first annual Puyallup Festival of Books,
Saturday, September 28, 2 pm
324 S Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371
Essential Ursula K. Le Guin reading: (all of it; but if you need a place to start):