Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Wonderful Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin


ONE of the greatest thrills of my professional life was the chance to interview the novelist ursula le guin last summer at her home in portland. HERE is my piece, which runs sunday in the LAT.

le guin is one of the few writers from my childhood -- 5th or 6th grade i think, for the "earthsea" books -- who gives me the same pleasure, if in a different key, as an adult.

in person, i found her  -- at nearly 80 -- to be intellectually and physically tough, like a frontierswoman. which fits a dedicated westerner who has fought to redraw the boundaries between serious and genre fiction. 

her latest novel, "lavinia," which takes off from virgil's "aeniad" and just came out in paperback, is fantastic. its puts some in mind of robert graves' delicious "i, claudius."

my only regret is that the idea of a "long" LATimes piece has changed drastically since i started the story, and the result is too short to really capture the full sweep of a half-century long career, and a writer who has been acclaimed, controversial, and in and out of fashion over those years. either way, her accomplishment is profound.


Photo credit: ursulakleguin.com


5 comments:

rich said...

I saw the article in the paper, repeat the paper, today. It was fine writing about fine writing. You were inspired by being with her and I was inspired by reading what you said about her..... now I'm going out to a bookstore (brick and mortar) to get her new book.
-Richard Kahlenberg

Scott Timberg said...

hey yes, lavinia is fabulous. glad you liked the piece. and pleased someone is still reading the actual newspaper!

Deborah Atherton said...

Very much enjoyed this piece, which I somehow ran across by searching on Dana Gioia. You captured so much of what her work has meant across several generations, and gave a wonderful feeling for what it was like sitting with her at her house. I, too, wish the LAT had been able to give you a little more space - but trust that any other material you have from the interview will reach print eventually. Thanks so much, it really was terrific.

Scott Timberg said...

hi glad you liked... the LAT book editor pushed as hard as he could to get the story as much possible -- tho it's less in 09 than it would have been in 08... some of this interview may end up in another project which i will alert readers to here... her work is certainly a bottomless and boundless subject...

asubtleknife said...

Nice piece. Check out my own appreciation of Lavinaia here: http://asubtleknife.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/lavinias-voice-or-the-critique-of-rome/