Rhonda's Reviews > The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Jan 11, 2009

it was amazing
Read in March, 1992

The Lathe of Heaven is a book of profound impact. I recall thinking that the concept of a world constantly turning inside out was almost too terrible to consider and, after I read it it, I began to feel like George, constantly disturbed while awake and unable to sleep peacefully. I began thinking about possibilities of our own world's demise, through no fault of my own, and suddenly felt responsible yet unable to aid it in any way. If anyone has suffered from insomnia, especially because of disturbing dreams, then this book feels like someone has been inside your head. This is both the fun and the magic of the concept of effective dreams.

There were several movies made from this book, but the only one worth seeing is an early one from the 70's. The quality is usually poor and it is difficult to get quite what is going on at various times, but the movie essentially shares what the hero is undergoing, all the while the world almost completely oblivious. The latter movie changes the plot to that of a happy ending. I don't mind happy endings but one gathers that the whole sequence of events in the book isn't about aberration, but a kind of looming reality.

Although I have trouble with the way Ms. Le Guin writes, I realize that she is a careful writer. I always recall a book of poetry she wrote called Hard Words which was very difficult. Unfortunately, in the novel, I feel that she is in such a rush to make her many excellent points, she glosses over the landscape behind the words. In essence, it is a kind of minimalist background against which all the rest is drawn. While I think her tale telling has improved immensely over the years, I doubt there will ever be a more ominous and perhaps prophetic look at our future than The Lathe of Heaven.
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