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Over the course of a long, unpredictable, idiosyncratic career, she has written contemporary fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and essays. But she still has one unfulfilled ambition: to be discussed not in genre but in literary terms. She told me recently, "I would love to see somebody, somewhere, sometime, just talk about me as an American novelist." For someone who's best known as a science fiction writer, it may be a lot to ask. If you prefer your fiction strictly realistic, if you're impatient with invented names and places reachable only by spaceship or magewind, you'll have trouble granting her a place in the literary canon. Now, however, with several Le Guin publishing projects going on, it may be time to rethink her legacy. The question is not whether she'll be read fifty years from now, but how.
Blond tourists, and white brunette tourists, write memoirs where they get spiritually transformed and then find love. But then you meet these memoirists in New York, and they're neurotic and unhappy. In the yoga dressing room, you learn that they're controlling with their toddlers, or that they're still getting rejected by men they met on the internet. The ones who aren't anorexic are orthorexic. I read trashy market-friendly girl memoirs all the time, and sometimes I don't find out until years later that they're written by my blond and white-brunette acquaintances, the same people who are always at Souen eating flavorless macrobiotic squashes and kanten desserts, trying to stay thin. I can't decide whether the books are exactly like the aging girls who wrote them, or completely different. I can't decide whether they're delusions, or fabrications. I can't decide whether they're sweet and naive, or cynical -- fantasy, or porn.
Love lyrics; travel poems set in India and Afghanistan; visions of urban desolation and political degradation; dialogues with writers, painters, and thinkers past and present; reveries and meditations that weave together autobiography, history, eroticism, and vision -- in all of his work, Paz did what Guy Davenport said true poets have always done: “given a tongue to dumbness, celebrated wonderments, complained of the government, told tales, found sense where none was to be perceived, found nonsense where we thought there was sense; in short, made a world for the mind (and occasionally the body too) to inhabit.”
"The sensuality of turning pages will be available, but at a much higher price, like organically grown coffee. The paper book will be a boutique product, far from the products of today's publishing giants that are collapsing as we speak. The noise that you hear is actually the sound of editors-in-chief being sucked down the Amazon-dot-vacuum. All books will be digitized, and all print books will be available either as print-on-demand from your computer or as art from your local snob-shop owner. The only problem is the one that freaked me out in Bibliodeath: all writing, print, digital, archived, anything recorded anywhere, will not only be with us, but it will occupy every space available, including our bodies, which will function as storage units. The real problem is that nothing really dies; it just piles up in every media and fills the world with endless copies. Our consciousness is bound to go nova at some point from the weight of endless repetition."
"I don't see any logical reason why we couldn't find a non-Asian writer writing a rich Asian experience; we just haven't seen that done well yet in the submissions we've read. But I will also tell you that the one book I read in high school with a complex Asian character was [John Steinbeck's] East of Eden. Growing up in an all-white community, finding Lee in that book was really important to me. A lot of literary folks have expressed criticisms about him, but I think Lee is the character that holds that book together. I would have published that book."
"In World War II, the IRA tried to get arms from Germany to fight the British, who were still in Northern Ireland, so the link was still there. Ireland was neutral, mostly to emphasize our split from Britain. This is the ostensible reason why the Irish President Eamon DeValera signed the book of condolences in the German Embassy in Dublin after Hitler did everyone a big favor by offing himself. Hitler also had an Irish nephew, who went to Germany hoping uncle Adolf would give him a job, but Hitler hated him on sight. Intolerance rules the waves. For fifty years, there was a Swastika laundry in Dublin. It only closed in the 1970s!"
I’ve kept my eye out for offbeat choices that teens (and a little younger) would like to find under their trees this year. There a little bit of something for everyone here, from fashion to dinosaurs to art to classic adventure. All are beautiful, interesting and guaranteed not to show up in the donate bag by New Year’s.