On the infinite wisdom of Ursula Le Guin

I’m rereading A Wizard of Earthsea. It’s marvelously wise, and to think that it was one of the earliest of Le Guin’s published novels! I’ve read interviews with Le Guin, where she credits her discovery of feminism with uplifting her career. “A Wizard of Earthsea” predates her feminist work, but there are fun ways of reading it as a proto-feminist narrative, I believe.

Here’s a passage that comes at the end of Ged’s schooling; he’s graduated and became a full-staffed wizard. Now he needs to leave the school, and for that he needs to guess the name of The Master Doorkeeper.

Ged knew a thousand ways and crafts and means for finding out names of things and of men, of course; such craft was a part of everything he had learned at school, for without it there could be little useful magic done. But to find out the name of a Mage and Master was another matter. A mage’s name is better hidden than a herring in the sea, better guarded than a dragon’s den. A prying charm will be met with a stronger charm, subtle devices will fail, devious inquiries will be deviously thwarted, and force will be turned ruinously back upon itself. . . . .

 

After the sun was up Ged went, still fasting, to the door of the House and knocked. The Doorkeeper opened.

“Master,” said Ged, “I cannot take your name from you, not being strong enough, and I cannot trick your name from you, not being wise enough. So I am content to stay here, and learn or serve, whatever you will: unless by chance you will answer a question I have.”

“Ask it.”

“What is your name?”

Buy and read the rest of the book.

Счастьеведение по методу «Хлоп-страны»

Еще одна рецензия на “Хлоп-страну”:

Это естественное любопытство автора, а также постоянное желание проникнуть глубже поверхностного восприятия – в самую сердцевину отношений – помогает Ольге Гренец, казалось бы, самую незначительную ситуацию превратить в историю, имеющую глубину. Рассказ «Любить перемены» появился из короткой переписки дочери, живущей в США, с матерью, которая, выйдя на пенсию, приняла неожиданное решение учить английский язык. Всего несколько вопросов по переводу английских фраз – а для автора это повод поразмышлять об отношениях между родителями и детьми, о сестринском соперничестве, о том, насколько крепкими остаются семейные узы, даже когда жизнь разбрасывает членов одной семьи по всему земному шару.

Продолжение тут.

Clark Coolidge’s Collected Poems

Excited to learn that Clark Coolidge’s new Collected Poems is being published in April. I’m well-connected! Got an email from City Lights, announcing his reading on April 13, and also an email from the publisher, Station Hill Press. Apparently, Publishers Weekly declined to review this book — which is a sure sign of a certain kind of quality. Coolidge’s experiments from 1962 to 1986 still feel experimental!  This book comes with the coolidge-cover-largeintroduction by the late poet Bill Berkson.

I learned of Coolidge’s work several years ago, when asked to review his long poem that came out of trips to Leningrad-Petersburg. That review appeared in HTMLGiant. I’ve been following his work ever since. What appeals to me the most is the sense of play that comes from reading his lines, the attitude toward poetry and language as something to take apart and mold in new ways, as though just to see what will happen. A reading act calls for some kind of an interaction, for a partner to whom I could speak some lines, and who would laugh and nod in response. That’s cool. This falls flat. Read that again.

Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow

Peg Alford Pursell is one of the writers whose work I’ve been following for some years, having met her when she moved to the Bay Area and became a regular, for a time, at the San Francisco Writers Workshop. It’s a particular pleasure to hold in my hands a book that I feel I already know intimately, from having seen some of the stories in drafts, from knowing the author’s aesthetic and using that as a jumping off point into the reading. my-book-cover-in-this-size-2_2_0

But what if the book proves to be too familiar, too well-known, its movements too predictable? Will the writer still surprise, like a partner after many years of marriage? The risk is high, and the reward — oh the reward. Being allowed into the inner world of another human being, being encouraged to examine the corridors of her heart, laid out in all of their complexity, the dizzying sensation of falling into the words as into a looking glass.

Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow delivers all that. I’m about halfway through. Looking at its cover, I thought of describing it as baroque for a kind of exuberance in the detail of the bird and the petals. Such a perfect cover to this book, where the sparseness of language coexists with sudden proliferation, of streamlined sentences opening unexpectedly into luxurious, and soaring, flourishes.

The Courtyard in the Mirror

The Courtyard in the Mirror [“Der Hof im Spiegel”]

by Emine Sevgi Özdamar

Translated by Leslie A. Adelson

I thought she had died. I was standing in the kitchen with my back against the radiator, waiting for the sad light in her room, in the house across the way, where she lived, to go on in the large mirror that was attached to the wall over my kitchen table. For years her light from the house on the other side of the courtyard had been my setting sun. Whenever I saw her lighted window in the kitchen mirror, and only then, I turned on the light in my apartment. Now I was standing in the dark and had a cookie in my hand, but wasn’t eating it. I was afraid I would make too much noise. If she had died

Read the rest of this beautiful story in UC Berkeley’s magazine Transit.

Peninsula Literary on March 17

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About Featured Readers

Olga Zilberbourg is a bilingual author; born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she
lives in San Francisco. Her third book of stories was published in Russia in
2016. Her English-language fiction has appeared in World Literature Today,
Tin House’s Open Bar, Narrative Magazine, and other print and online
publications. Her story “Love & Hair” recently won The Willesden Herald
International Short Story Award that she received in London, UK. Olga serves
as a co-moderator of the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

David Denny’s most recent book is a collection of short fiction, The Gill Man in
Purgatory. He is also the author of two poetry collections: Man Overboard and
Fool in the Attic. Recent stories and poems have appeared in The Sun, Rattle,
California Quarterly, Catamaran, Spillway, and Chiron Review. David teaches
in the English Department at De Anza College in Cupertino, where he also
served as inaugural Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. When not teaching or
writing, he paints, hikes, reads, and enjoys classic studio-era movies. Check
out his web site at www.daviddenny.net.

Find out more about Gallery House artist Rozanne Hermelyn Di Silvestro at
http://wordpress.hermelyn.com/wordpress/

The Catography of Others

Catherine McNamara is a uniquely gifted writer, able to translate her amazing travel and life experiences into thought-provoking fiction. I’ve read some of Catherine’s work, and I’m delighted to welcome her upcoming book, The Cartography of Others. It’s being crowdfunded by a UK-based press, Unbound. This promises to be a super cool campaign with some awesome pledges — how about an opera date in Verona?

The Cartography of Others is a collection of twenty stories that take place from fumy Accra to the Italian Dolomites, from suburban Sydney to high-rise Hong Kong. Lives are mapped, unpicked, crafted, overturned. Each story inhabits a location that becomes as vital as the characters themselves, men and women who are often far from home, immersed in unfamiliar cultures, estranged from those they hold dear. Love is panicked, worn, tested.

There’s a cool book video, too.

https://unbound.com/books/the-cartography-of-others