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Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  651 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
The bestselling author of the Earthsea trilogy, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed presents a collection of short stories and poems that takes the reader into a magical, whimsical world where the line between human and animal is quite different from our world. Winner of the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Roc (first published 1987)
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I imagine most of these stories are collected somewhere else by now, but I was also interested in this book for the introductions to each story, which may not be collected elsewhere. It’s interesting to see what Le Guin feels the stories are about, what she thinks is important to know. For example, with ‘The Wife’s Tale’, she apparently warns audiences that it is not a werewolf story at the beginning. But I thought that mistake was kind of the point? That flip-flop moment of, oh. I got it wrong. ...more
Tom Emanuel
Aug 03, 2013 Tom Emanuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[NOTE: I am reviewing not only the illustrated edition of the short story "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight," but the collection (not listed on Goodreads) BUFFALO GALS & OTHER ANIMAL PRESENCES. Look for it on Amazon!]

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of America's great living authors, as attested by this gripping collection of ecologically-themed short fiction, ranging from humorous poems to novelettes, from sci-fi to fantasy to experimental fiction.

The eponymous "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come O
May 19, 2009 Sarita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've taught "The Wife's Story" for years, and it is just a delight to re-read the thing. The story catches lazy readers off-guard, and each reading just adds to the sheen of Le Guinn's characterization.
May 16, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Ursula Le Guin is such a consummate word smith that her books are never boring.

But I just couldn't get into this one. It's written from that modern-Indian-with-Coyote-in-sneakers POV, which isn't exactly my cup of tea.

From the back cover:
"By climbing up into his own head and shutting out every voice but his own, 'civilized man' has gone deaf. He can't hear the wolf calling him brother -- not master, but brother. He can't hear the earth calling him child -- not father, but son."

"Ursula K. Le
A very interesting and mostly well-written collection by Ursula Le Guin. I think I'm at the point now where I believe Le Guin is singularly gifted to look at things from the "other" perspective. It's incredible how insightful she is and how believable her insights are, even towards things which for all we know have no perspectives at all. This collection of short stories and poems is mostly intended to display a novel point of view for animals, plant-life, and even geology, as well as, I believe ...more
The title story of this book is one of my favorite pieces by Ursula Le Guin, who is one of my favorite authors of all time. Le Guin is such a successful world-builder, I didn't immediately catch on that it took place in the American Southwest. My copy of the book is so old that it is beginning to disintegrate; when I finished the title story this time around, I was actually brought to tears.

Other works in the book are also worthwhile, most notably "Vaster Than Empires and More Slow."
Jul 27, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd be interested to see this in a collection with Ursula Vernon's Jackalope Wives, and to ask Ms. Vernon if she'd ever read this piece before. The themes aren't exactly identical, but are somewhat similar in their setting/mythology-- but I'm sure this comes from their familiarity with anthropology and southwestern Native American cultures. Both are great stories, of course.

Found this book in the children's section of HPB. Clearly, they didn't read this before shelving it.
My reading experience of this was somewhat ruined by the Italian publisher titling this short story "Le ragazze bufalo" (Buffalo Gals). Because of this I didn't realise the title was a reference to the song Coyote sings and kept expecting Buffalo people to pop up and have a relevant role in the story, which lead to a totally unfair sense of disappointment when I got to the ending and there was still no trace of buffalo girls.
Putting that aside, the story is that kind of fantasy slice of life whi
Oct 10, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
My favorite author (bar none), Ursula K. Le Guin, is hard to categorize. Her stories here, some fantasy, some science fiction--she prefers the label "speculative fiction"--all share an animal perspective--or a shift in perspective from the dominant human one. Some are short stories; one is probably a novella--she disrespects others' labels in beautiful ways.
Mar 19, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, I skipped around in parts, but you're allowed to do that in a collection of short stories and poems. I really admire Ursula K LeGuin's connection to nature and her respect for all things living and I am disappointed that I don't like her works more than I do. But I have to be honest; some stories were too boring and some poems soared too far over my head.
On a positive note, LeGuin showed me that my ridiculous short story plots involving animals and twist endings (her husband wa
Heidi Vlach
This short story collection marks my first time reading anything by Le Guin. The author's reputation preceeds her but this book is a real mixed bag for me.

I liked the titular novelette, "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Home Tonight". If all the stories were like this one, I'd be giving the book a higher rating. "Buffalo Gals" blends native American mythology and the modern, "real" world in a dreamlike way that changes depending on who's perceiving it. I found Coyote a vivid, oddly endearing charac
D. George
Jul 19, 2014 D. George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful collection of stories and poems! As always, I am amazed at this author's ability to *write*. Every story, every poem, is a new adventure written in a new voice. From the child saved by Coyote after a plane crash, to the person being put through mazes like a lab rat, to the girl and her white donkey, all of the stories are beautiful and wholly-realized worlds. Her poetry made me think, and I enjoyed reading her introductions, which she said she wrote as if she was speaking them t ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Lia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this! What a gem!
S.D. Johnson
I guess it is not surprising since this book is compiled from various sources around themes that it would be somewhat uneven. However, considering some of its terrible moments & Le Guin's sarcastic comments concerning the western canon in the introduction, I just find it rather sad considering her moments of genius here & in her other works. Le Guin would do well to learn from literature's greats... Her genius shines through at times & it makes the times when she is being sentimental ...more
Scott Neigh
The first grown-up novel I ever read on my own was A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin -- in the car on the way home from church one Sunday I heard my Dad talking about a novel he was teaching and it piqued my interest, and soon enough he was reading it to me for my bedtime story and soon after that I read it again on my own -- and I've loved her work ever since. This is a collection of older short stories and poems by Le Guin. I particularly enjoyed many of the stories which are, by and larg ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Kenzie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-myth
"And Other Animal Presences" is a key phrase in the title: I love the way Le Guin starts from the simple but often overlooked perspective of nonhumans. She writes about animals, but also plants, and even rocks. (Having read this shortly after Skinny Legs and All, the idea of seeing the world from the perspective of non-sentient objects was particularly interesting to me.) Seeing things from a nonhuman perspective leads to all sorts of changes in how you see communication, emotion, body... In sev ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
Ah, Ms Le Guin, I would devour anything you put before me, even short stories and essays. In this collection we see her ability to look from incredibly diverse perspectives, forcing us to perceive life in so many different ways. My personal favorites: Mazes, The Wife's Story, and The Direction of the Road, this last fills my mind whenever I am walking, biking, or driving past trees and I fear for them.
Greg Lehman
Oct 05, 2014 Greg Lehman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The titular short story here is one of my very favorites. Magical realism is taken to a new height (and I don't say that lightly) in the form of Native American folklore coming to life in a dimension not too far from our own. The wildness that ensues is laugh out loud funny, grotesque, and heartbreaking, and Le Guin hits every note without a hint of contrivance or indulgence.
Diana Bogan
Jan 01, 2012 Diana Bogan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book a long time ago because it is illustrated by one of my favourite artists (Susan Seddon Boulet). I am glad that I read this book for myself before reading it to my children, like thought I would! The Coyote is a bit rough in the tongue for my little ones. That said, Ursula K. Le Guin is a master at imagery. From the first sentence I was drawn into this beautiful and haunting tale. It's a grown-up's fable and I loved just about every line of it. I think what I love most is th ...more
Heather S
Feb 13, 2015 Heather S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this the whole way through. I had to stop and rethink my perspective a few times, realizing I had missed the subtle hints until the truth was smacking me in the face.
Apr 10, 2015 Uintah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gave it four stars for the title story: Buffalo Gals. The poetry is not really worthwhile. A few of the other stories are entertaining. Buffalo Gals is special, unique, a fantasy based on reality and on Native American mythological characters. It's a true story of vision that's hilarious and offensive. I'm not sure I have any friendship in my life right now that I can be as real with as this story is. That's because I've spent far, far too long living with the New People again. (Written for myse ...more
Ian Lewis
May 22, 2016 Ian Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many of these stories were beautiful. reminded me of why I love Ursula K. Le Guin.
Mar 01, 2015 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buffalo gals was a quick read for me. I enjoyed it so very much. I admit I had a hard time getting into The Dispossessed several years ago. This was was an incredibly wonderful step towards falling for this author's works.
Courtney Warren
Beautifully written, Le Guin explores magical realism through the presence of animals to a point where readers do not know who is animal and who isn't. However, this is definitely not for children due to the language and the sexual scenes.
I really enjoyed this book. I can only give it four stars instead of five because I didn't think Ursula K. Le Guin's poetry was as strong as her prose; there were many times when the segments introducing the poems spoke to me more than the poems themselves. Some of my favorite pieces were "She Unnames Them," "The Direction of the Road," "Vaster than Empires and More Slow," and "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight."
Mar 06, 2013 Thoraiya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories and poems are wonderful. One of the stories, "The Author of the Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts From the Journal of Therolinguistics," I've read before.

Not sure where. But I loved it just as much the second time around. And it's because of this story that I can't understand why Ken Liu's "The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" has been so lauded; no offence to him in the slightest, I am a Liu fan, but Ursula already wrote that story, better, in 1974.
The first story about Coyote is going to stay with me. Worth checking out for that story alone.
Feb 03, 2012 Story rated it it was amazing
The title story is easily one of my favorites of Le Guin's work, and the volume ends just as powerfully, with "She Unnames Them." Many of the tales are also showcased in The Compass Rose, such as "The Wife's Story," "Schrödinger's Cat," "The Author of the Acacia Seeds," "The White Donkey," and "Mazes," but they fit here, add power and subtlety.
Jun 15, 2010 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have the older version, without the Susan Seddon Boulet artwork, but with a dozen other short stories and bits of poetry in one volume. I've only read the title story and a few of the poems; five stars for Ursula LeGuin's trademark voice, for the fabulous intro/commentary, and for making me tear up at the end.
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
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