Contented Reader

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The Unreal and the Real: Volume Two

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The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin

Small Beer Press

I usually tear through books, fast.  At the end of the week, I’m startled by how many I have read even when I feel like I haven’t had enough time for reading.  This week, though, I’ve spend nearly all of my time immersed in this one book.

I don’t know why I haven’t read Le Guin before, now.  Her sentences are beautiful.  I liked several of the stories in volume one, but volume two is the book that really enthralled me.

Can I mention “Solitude?”  It described a world inhabited by introverts, who make a powerful distinction between ‘people’ (which they most definitely are not) and ‘persons.’  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it before.  The point of view of a young woman of two worlds, the gradual unfolding of how the persons of Eleven-Soro understand themselves and their world, is something I’m going to come back to again and again.

“Poacher” startled me and delighted me at the same point, when I realized that I was reading a familiar story without recognizing it.

It’s not hard to understand why I’ve heard of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” even though I haven’t read it before, and it’s not hard to understand how it has made its way into a variety of classrooms.

I will keep both volumes of this collection, but volume two is the book I think I’ll be rereading soonest.  I had no idea this was what Le Guin was like, and now I feel a little silly for having failed to read her before.  I’ll likely be reading one of her novels in the not-too-distant future.

I don’t know anything about reality, but I know what I like.

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Written by Contented Reader

January 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Reviews

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