I should make it a priority to read more LeGuin

I've pretty much loved everything I've read by her so far. Cheek by Jowl is a series of essays and talks by Urusla K. LeGuin about fantasy.  I believe they were all written, and given as talks, in the last decade.  My favorite, I think, was "The Critics, the Monsters and the Fantasists.  It begins:
     There was a while when people kept telling me, you must read this wonderful book about a school for wizards, it's so original, there's never been anything like it!
     The first time this happened, I confess I though they were telling em to read my own A Wizard of Earthsea, which involves a school for wizards, and has been in print since 1969.  No such luck!  I had to hear all about Harry, and it was hard, at first.  I felt ignoble envy.  But I soon felt a growing and less ignoble astonishment.  Reviewers and critics were talking about Rowling's book as if it were a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. 
Leguin goes on to praise Harry but to also show that it is a pretty typical book in the tradition of the school story in fantasy.  She's appalled that people who read for a living, who should know better, being completely in the dark about fantasy literature. She criticizes the critics and university English departments that have marginalized a swath of literature that people love, that people relate to from childhood through adulthood, and that they dismiss it out of hand.  Wonderful.

Also quite good is the longest essay "Cheek by Jowl: Animals in Children's Literature" and "Why Kids Want Fantasy, or, Be Careful What You Eat" the end of which sounds a bit like Neil Gaiman's "Instructions".  A 6 from me; it's all good.

And the bibliography!  If women still did such a thing, I would swoon over it!  The fiction! the non-fiction!  I could spend a year just reading the books on it. 

so now i've added A Wizard of Earthsea to my library hold list too. B was Shocked, Shocked! to know I had not read it.


  1. Confession, I've never read LeGuin! She's been high on my list, but I'm just not sure where to start. Email me if you have any great tips on a first book!

  2. The first book by her i read was The Left Hand of Darkness. It is more of a fantasy version of a scifi. I've also read The Dispossessed is more philosophical and harder sci-fi.


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