No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

Ursula K. Le Guin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (240p) ISBN 978-1-328-66159-3
Fantasy and SF author Le Guin (The Lost and the Found) mines her blog in these short, punchy, and canny meditations on aging, literature, and cats. Prompted by an alumni survey from her alma mater, Radcliffe, that asks how she occupies her spare time, she takes issue with the idea that any time occupied by living—whether that means reading, writing, cooking, eating, cleaning, etc.—can be considered spare. Moreover, with her 81st birthday fast approaching, Le Guin declares, ”I have no time to spare.” One of the most personal pieces lovingly describes Le Guin’s adoption of a kitten from the local Humane Society, describing how the “vivid little creature” eventually settled in the house and became her “pard” (partner.) On literary topics, Le Guin contests the preoccupation with finding the next Great American Novel—“We have all the great novels we need and right now some man or woman is writing a new one we won’t know we needed till we read it”—and responds to a reader’s question about the meaning of one of her books by responding that its meaning is up to the reader. In a prescient 2012 essay on lying and politics, she wonders whether America can “go on living on spin and illusion, hot air and hogwash, and still be my country.” Le Guin reveals no startling insights but offers her many fans a chance to share her clear-eyed experience of the everyday. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 08/14/2017
Release date: 12/05/2017
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