Thursday, September 19, 2019

Le Guin

I'm reading a collection of interviews with Le Guin and thinking about the ways our writing is similar. (I have been called Le Guin-like plenty of times.) In some cases the similarity is due to direct influence. Her two tour de force novels -- Left Hand of Darkness and Wizard of Earthsea -- came out when I was just starting to become a real writer. I suspect I might be as impressed by The Lathe of Heaven if I reread it. (Maybe I should reread it.) I think there is little question that her work influenced me.

But as I have aged I have wanted to be my own writer, sui generis. And I think -- hope -- that at the core Le Guin and I are different.

I will probably read some Le Guin essays and think about the ways we are different. She usually sounds so sane and calm and smooth to me, and my sense of myself is -- I am probably sane, but I am not calm nor smooth. And I hear French behind her English, though I may be wrong about this. I hear Old Norse behind my English, at least in many stories. My brother says he can hear the sagas in all my writing. Le Guin is bien civilisé. I don't think I am. I have certainly done my best to get away from American professional middle class civilization.


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