Over the past several months, I’ve mourned her passing by reading every tribute I can find. Most touch upon her seminal works, on Earthsea and Omelas, on The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness. Yet few seem to speak to the wider breadth of her oeuvre, which ranged from critical essays and genre-defying short stories to translations of ancient texts and funny food recipes. Le Guin would be rankled at that, I think. This piece is intended to shine a light on her lesser known works, reorient her more famous pieces through my own lens, and showcase the woman behind and beyond the words. She would appreciate the gesture, I hope:
“In the evening, my mom sends me a text: Are you ok? I saw one of her quotes @Twitter: ‘Go on and do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.’
Gensher, of Way. A biological parent, delivering advice from a literary one. If I have learned anything in this life, it is to listen to my mothers. So I sit down at the table and begin once more the work, my work with words, this time plying it to find a road out of the land of dust and shadows, back to the green grove, the sun’s light, the empty sky.”
I chose the headline image partly because I’ve always associated trees and their “great slow gestures” with Le Guin, and partly because a lone figure reaching up towards an infinite sky seemed to fit her as a writer and a thinker.
The title was inspired by Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to a film adaption of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Dick was one of many authors I would have never had read in-depth if not for a Le Guin essay (along with Lem, Woolf, Saramago, Calvino, Tiptree Jr. – the list goes on). Through care and generosity of spirit she tended the door that opened to new worlds and possibilities; for that I shall always be grateful.
Featured Image credit: Pixabay