The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
Ursula K. Le Guin. Shambhala Publications, $22.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-59030-006-0
Principally known as a writer of fantasy fiction, Le Guin here proves herself to be a skilled and thought-provoking writer of nonfiction as well. Her persnickety, opinionated voice often leaps off the page, and, at her best, she guides readers easily through the vast realm of her ideas, from her thoughts on slavery and oppression and her opposition to E. O. Wilson's genetic determinism, to complex considerations of her favorite authors: Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and J. R. R. Tolkein. One particularly fascinating essay,""Indian Uncles,"" allows readers a glimpse into Le Guin's family's history, especially of her anthropologist father's work with Native American men. However, the collection's uneven selection of pieces may leave readers longing for more of the interesting topics and fewer of the drafty prose explorations (e.g.,""On Being Taken for Granite""). Le Guin's academically rigorous, but hard to follow, examination of verse and rhythm (""Stress-Rhythm in Poetry and Prose"") may also lose most readers, and, in general, one can't help wishing that a stronger editorial hand had winnowed the inclusions a bit more. Nonetheless, the collection includes enough gems to make it a must-read for Le Guin's many fans.
Reviewed on: 02/16/2004