Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Ursula Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven

Well, I'll be darned, I found another one!

This book has been a total mind fuck in the absolutely best sense and I have to admit right here and now that I had to go online to figure out what, exactly, I'd just been reading...  😂


But let's look at the author first and I'll write about the book/story/etc tomorrow.

Ursula K. LeGuin was doing her thing in the 1970's, the years of the hippies, the war, the economy, rebellion of authority, overpopulation, nostalgia for a simpler time, and the exploration of Eastern philosophies. The daughter of an anthropologist father and a mother studying psychology, Ursula was coming of age in a family rife with speculative study, cultural observation, academics, moralism, feminism, and Jungian philosophy.
I'm jealous.

Having earned a master's degree in French, Le Guin began doctoral studies, but abandoned these after her marriage in 1953 to historian Charles Le Guin. She began writing full-time in the 1950s, and achieved major critical and commercial success with with her sci-fi writing, namely A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), two books that are now on my list. Ursula went on to win several writing awards, including the Hugo Award and Nebula award; she was the first woman to do that.

Her novels often explored themes of feminism, race, Taoism, and gender identity, making her, in my opinion, pretty cool in the 1970's. These themes do rear their provocative heads in The Lathe of Heaven.  And, get this one, The U.S. Library of Congress named her a Living Legend in 2000. (A Library of Congress Living Legend is someone recognized by the Library of Congress for his or her creative contributions to American life.) Is that cool, or what? With that honor, she joined the ranks with other Living Legends like Sally Ride, Yo-Yo Ma, I.M. Pei, and Fred Rogers, to name a few.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies.
We will need writers who can remember freedom.
Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

A young Le Guin
I know that I will be reading more Le Guin at some point because I've requested about six of her books, including one that is her memoir, from my library. I've been pulled in by her writing, some of which was simply gorgeous. And I'm interested in her 1970's exploration of themes, some of which we are still exploring today. I love the little time capsule of books, giving the reader the chance to see, not only what is being written as the story or content, but also to be able to see the time and culture in which the book was written. In this book, The Lathe of Heaven, the decade of the 1970's was as much of a shady character in the book as any walking, talking turtle. It was quite fascinating to see the play of topics in her book.

And, interestingly enough, at least to me, this is the exact same reason I'm enjoying the old TV series "Room 222" right now.

Anyway, give me a few days to process the book a bit and I'll be back with some thoughts!

Have you read anything by Le Guin?
What do you recommend?
What do you think of her writing?

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