Listening to Le Guin

Apr 24, 16:59 by IROSF
Thread for the discussion of Greg Beatty's column.

The article is here.
Apr 26, 10:37 by Julie Marino

I really think your article on LeGuin resonated in the final question you left us with after examining this quote of hers:

The more truly your work comes from your own being, body and soul, rather than fitting itself into male conventions and expectations of what to write about and how to write it, the less it will suit most editors, reviewers, grant givers, and committees.

I honestly think this quote was not referring to her many awarding winning novels which were mostly from the perspective of a male character and address issues of male heirarchy and culture, but rather refers to her struggle with the lukewarm reception she was getting for Always Coming Home -- and I believe this lukewarm reception must have come from editors and publishers as well as from her reading public.

Having read her critical works on writing and having taken a workshop with her when she was promoting her book on writing "Steering the Craft" I always thought that Always Coming Home was meant to be her masterwork, her definitive authorial moment where she was truly reshaping a new possibility for how novels could be written with a woman's voice and within a feminine paradigm.

This book clearly is working within the paradigm of women's fiction that she called The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. I fell in love with this theory of writing and yet it still took me years to really fall in love with it's result, Always Coming Home. It takes a maturity of thought and a certain patience and quietness of being to appreciate the quality of this book.

Luckily, I just found the trade paperback of this at my local library used bookstore for a dollar. It won no awards, but for me it is full of small gems, each one glistening on its own and as the whole is absorbed you suddenly come upon a moment when the entire pattern, the complete weaving becomes clear and whole in your mind.

And that's when the experience of the book becomes something that alters perception and allows a paradigm shift -- a way of seeing the world that wasn't there before. If, after all, this is what we hope for a novel of brilliance to do, then I think this vastly overlooked and ignored book does it better than any other I have experienced. And in my mind, really did change the way a woman's voice could be heard.

But no one but Le Guin -- already one of the most decorated writers in Science Fiction -- could get it published.


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