"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Telling - Ursula K. Le Guin

I read The Left Hand of Darkness years ago and loved it very much. I really don't know what my excuse is for not reading more of Le Guin sooner! (Although I have read and love the short story Catwings and had read A Wizard of Earthsea before.) As I said in my review for the Earthsea trilogy, she is the master world builder. I borrowed my mom's copy and read this Locus Award winning novel while staying at my folks' farm last month.

The Telling is set in the Hainish Cycle. Sutty is an earthling and an observer for the Ekumen (like Genly Ai on Gethen in The Left Hand of Darkness), staying on the planet Aka. The society there is run by the Corporation, currently in "The Time of Cleansing", and systematically destroying all knowledge, writing, and practices of the planet's past. Anyone caught using the old ways is "re-educated". Sutty digs carefully but deeply into the culture she's observing, starting out in Dovza City and traveling to Okzat-Ozkat, far up in the mountains. What she finds there can only be described as the truth.

I LOVE Le Guin's style! The people of her stories are fictional but live in perfectly crafted, realistic, complicated societies. There is no window she doesn't look through in her writing; there are anthropological, historical, ecological and environmental themes going on, and like in The Left Hand of Darkness, she addresses sex and sexuality. She takes relevant swings at our own contemporary culture with the Dovza people's favorite morning drink 'akakafi', which can be purchased at the Corporation brand 'Starbrew's'. And on page 127, Le Guin made my day with the phrase, "a world of words". Darned if I can remember the exact sentence, but that's what I get for taking so long to write about it, rats. I can't recommend this author's writing enough. If only the people making decisions like this were required to read these books, I think the world would be a very different place.


  1. I wasn't born in the U.S., but I don't like illegal immigration, either. Every year, thousands of people become citizens legally. When illegals try to get a job, or housing, using falsified documentation - that breaks the law. If a legal citizen did that, they'd go to prison.

  2. It's definitely an ongoing problem and not going to be resolved anytime soon.


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