You guuuuuuys, I feel terrible, but I did NOT enjoy this. The writing is, of course, incredible. It’s amazing how quickly Le Guin can set a scene and sketch out a character. Even the stories that were only a few pages long had an incredibly clear snapshot of a person or a setting. She can make a character feel real with only a few paragraphs.
However. They’re not real stories, which is what my brain had been expecting. A lot of them are completely aimless glimpses into a character’s life, with no plot and nothing happening. I realize this may be my own shortcoming as a reader, but I felt like I was doing homework for a Lit class. Ursula K. Le Guin should not make me have horrible flashbacks to Don Delillo.
There’s one beautiful story about a rural town in Oregon, with intimate little visits to different townsfolk. It was lovely. I wanted to know more. It just stopped, with no ending. Most of them seemed to just stop. Some of them had clever things to say about gender roles, but in another story, the protagonist was a casual rapist, which was super jarring. One that seemed actually story-like was a kind of fairy tale, and was super sad. Most of the entries weren’t real stories, though – just a collection of words and characters.
I was expecting science fiction and fantasy with a beginning, middle, and end, and instead I got imaginary professors in my head saying, “What do you think the author intended with this line?” I am more disappointed in myself than the book, but it was clear I was not in the right headspace for it at this time!