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

Ursula K. Le Guin. Saga, $29.99 (736p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7629-4
Le Guin, recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters among many other honors, was tasked with selecting the 39 short stories in this significant collection, representing a half-century (from “Semley’s Necklace” in 1964 to “The Jar of Water” in 2014) of her short fiction. The contents, including Le Guin’s succinct introductions and dismissal of genre boundaries, are largely the same as in the 2012 edition, which received the Oregon Book Award/Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, with the addition of “The Jar of Water,” a thoughtful parable on attention to one’s job. The volume is semi-arbitrarily separated into stories of realism and fantastika; the tales are set in the American West, the fictional Earth land of Orsinia, the science fiction realm of Hainish, and the fantastical land of Earthsea, among other splendidly realized locations. Le Guin’s storytelling talent and expressive language make every character’s choices feel true and significant, and all of the stories resonate with the reader. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
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