cover image Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing

Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing

David Naimon. Tin House, $14.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-941040-99-7

Originating in three interviews that short-story author Naimon conducted with SF stalwart Le Guin (The Found and the Lost) for the radio show Between the Covers, this book is an enlightening conversation about the writing process. Both authors adopt the tone of artisans discussing their craft, and each’s delight at debating with a like-minded professional is evident throughout. Le Guin stresses the importance of knowing grammatical rules, arguing that to write “anything, you’ve got to have the tools to make it.” Naimon, clearly well versed in Le Guin’s work, connects their discussion of language to her novels The Dispossessed, about an “anarchist utopia” with no possessive pronouns, and The Left Hand of Darkness, about an alien race without any fixed gender. Le Guin picks her words and subjects carefully, expositing boldly on writing as an inherently political act (an insight she traces back to George Orwell) and on Margaret Atwood’s discomfort with labeling her work science fiction, while shutting down conversations on subjects she feels less able to speak to, such as self-publishing. Her expansive knowledge of the SF genre provides, most strikingly, a sharp perspective on how its female practitioners have too often been forgotten in favor of their male contemporaries. Her rapport with Naimon results in an exchange that is both informative and charming. [em](July) [/em]