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Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  99 reviews
When the New York Times referred to Ursula K. Le Guin as America’s greatest writer of science fiction, they just might have undersold her legacy. It’s hard to look at her vast body of work?novels and stories across multiple genres, poems, translations, essays, speeches, and criticism?and see anything but one of our greatest writers, period.

In a series of interviews with Da
Hardcover, 150 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Tin House Books (first published 2018)
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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  484 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing-books
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society & its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, & even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries—realists of a larger reality. . .”

A friend gave me this little book last summer. I hadn’t been that familiar with LeGuin, who died 1/20/18, though I read a collection of her essays a
Essentially an interview in book format, a conversation in three parts (fiction, poetry, non fiction) between Ursula K. Le Guin and David Naimon. This is really an amuse-bouche of a book, a taste of Le Guin's formidable intellect and opinions on a wide-range of topics relevant to the craft of writing.

If nothing else this has made me want to seek out Le Guin's book reviews and her blistering acceptance speech for The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014, in which she
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It’s lovely to have a transcript of UKL’s conversations with David Naimon. Excerpts of most of the works mentioned (whether UKL’s or others’) are included, which is a really lovely touch.
Leslie Reese
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-writing
At different points in my reading life I have promised myself I was going to read something by Ursula K. Le Guin. So, when she died in January of this year at the age of 88, I had that feeling of regret a reader can have - of not being able to join in the celebration of the impact of a writer’s work on my own consciousness.

Shortly after, I saw this book on the shelf at my public library and decided to begin getting acquainted with the ideas of Ursula Le Guin by “eavesdropping” on her conversatio
Jeremy Jackson
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A window into the contemplative mind of one of the most important contemporary authors, irrespective of genre, and a reminder of the invaluable literary jewel we recently lost.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
As it sounds, a series of conversations about the art of writing, language, the industry. The conversation is interspersed with black pages citing excerpts in example of the topics discussed. One such page involves Le Guin diagramming a sentence from 1984, demonstrating that sentences are all different animals, each with their own gait. Her way of thinking about written communication and language is magical.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, read-in-2018
Thanks to Tin House for sending me a review copy!

What a brilliant, brilliant woman. This is a quick little book - not even a hundred and fifty pages - but I found it delightful and thoughtful as both a reader and a writer. In its three parts, Naimon and Le Guin discuss her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Along the way are short excerpts from the pieces they're discussing, which made the conversations so much more fascinating to read.

I especially loved Le Guin's perspectives on language and "gra
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This is a beautiful little book, packed with not only the conversations referenced in the title, but also excerpts of the works the conversations refer to. I love everything she says about writing, always.
On the one hand, this is a slight volume that largely recovers material gone into in more depth in Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with A Journal of a Writer's Week. On the other hand, it's (some of) the last words of one of our best and brightest. It's short enough to read in a single evening. You could do a lot worse with your time.
Betsy Ashton
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be able to visit the mind of an author is a transcendent experience. Like sitting down with a cup of rich coffee, reading what Ursula K. Le Guin has to say about writing, philosophy, and the world in general is like watching the words lift off the page and circle before handing on your tongue. They are delicious. They are brutally honest. They are awe-inspiring. I read the book in two sittings. I will reread it more slowly, savoring each sentence, each new thought, to get the most out of it.

Timons Esaias
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I saw how slight this volume is -- 138 pages, small pages, widely-spaced lines -- I expected the content to be good, but slight. I am happy to report that, no, this volume had a very good ratio between signal and noise. It generated as long a reading/rereading list as I got from Dancing at the Edge of the World, which I recently finished.

As someone who publishes fiction and poetry and essays, it was nice to read a book about a writer who works in all three modes; and takes them on one-by-on
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clocking at less than 150 pages, it's a pretty short read. It's basically the trascription of three interviews with the same journalist focusing on sci-fi, poetry and non-fiction respectivelly. If you enjoyed Le Guin's work, these are pretty interesting. It's rare to have the chance to read the thoughts of a person so articulate, intelligent, and gifted, who is also so aware that she (or he) does not know everything about everything. Truly humbling. Loved it a lot and I'll probably pass it on to ...more
Jenny Forrester
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must read. A writer's comfort. Human comfort, really. Thanks to Ursula K. Le Guin in the Beyond and thanks to David Naimon for both of your brilliant minds.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book - it was stimulating, inspiring, and very intelligent. The book consisted either of one big interview that had been split into 3 parts or three different interviews that were put together in one book with the interviewer's musings about Le Guin's style and contribution to literature.

The book also contained quotations from poems and novels that were mentioned during the conversations. These were just a blessing. They definitely stood out as they were printed
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I read Donald Murray's A Writer Teaches Writing this summer, I made a commitment to read more books about the craft of writing from as many great writers as I could. He calls essays and conversations like this "shop talk." So when I stumbled upon this small book at the library, I snatched it up, not entirely sure I'd get to it with the other books I'm juggling right now and all the others stacked throughout my house.

But boy, I am glad I took the time to breeze through this. I know Le Guin h
Jan Priddy
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a sweet little book, with some wonderful lines from Ursula K. Le Guin. There are much better books by her. Ursula's words are a treasure and a gift, but this is a slender book for $14.95. Stand in a bookstore and read her words, and then do the smarter thing and buy one of her essay collections.

David Naimon is a good writer, but that's not why I bought this book. I have been doling out Ursula's writing to myself a bit at a time to make it last. I read her children's Catwings series. The
Morgan Dhu
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ursula Le Guin: Conversations on Writing is the last published book to which Le Guin was an active participant - her death came, says collaborator David Naimon - as the final corrections to the manuscript were being discussed and approved or changed. In a way, how like Le Guin, who retired from writing major pieces of fiction a few years back, to still be involved in communicating her thoughts literally up to the day of her death.

The book arose from a series of interviews Naimon conducted with
Camille McCarthy
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Transcriptions of radio interviews with Ursula Le Guin. It's a short book and it's outlined in a way that makes it visually appealing, so it probably could have been printed in far fewer pages if they had not emphasized the artistic formatting. I like that they laid it out the way they have, because it's better to read this book piece by piece to fully digest what she's saying. It's broken up into three sections: Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction. Her responses are nuanced and she has a unique pe ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I have to admit that the only book I read by her was Steering the Craft. In fact, that's how I first heard of her. I got two of her other books to read them but they just weren't my thing.

This book is just what is says, conversations on writing. It's interesting to see her viewpoints on writings, i.e., genre, point of view, and things like that and how they are so much more than what we give them credit for.

If you love this author and want to know what makes her tick, then you'll like this book
Jordan Lombard
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating read! I do really enjoy Ursula's thoughts on so many topics. She speaks a lot of truth. I just wish this could have been more in depth on some of the topics, or that there had been a little better correlation between topics discussed and where I might find the essay she originally wrote on that topic. The conversation written down here flows very easily, and very quickly from one topic to the next. I just wanted more!

Which, might be because I've not actually read much by
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Published posthumously, this series of interviews with Ursula Le Guin is a wonderful introduction to her writing and philosophy of literature. It is broken into parts with chapters on her thoughts on her fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
Interestingly, though she writes both sci-fi and poetry she does not feel able to combine the two. I was also intrigued by her thoughts on “genre” vs mainstream writing, a topic that seems to be discussed a lot these days.
Raimey Gallant
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a short book of interview transcripts with Le Guin on the topics of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. The manuscript was still being edited when she passed. The interview questions for fiction were mostly framed around the material she covered in her book Steering the Craft. The poetry discussion was interesting. The non-fiction discussion, that's where the magic is, folks, all twenty or so glorious pages of it. I didn't want it to end.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
honestly the interviewer was subpar
Brett Chalupa
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit short but still nice. A series of three thoughtful interviews with UKLG about writing fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Worth reading if you’re a fan or interested in her works.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel like this book was written just especially for me. An excellent series of interviews and excerpts cutting to the heart of LeGuin's ethos and writing.

Highly recommended.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, writing
Great book. Some excerpts:

"Beneath memory and experience, beneath imagination and invention, beneath words, there are rhythms to which memory and imagination and words all move. The writer's job is to go down deep enough to feel that rhythm, find it, move to it, be moved by it, and let it move memory and imagination to find words."

"I have put Rilke very high...I like later Rilke. He's a very strange poet and a lot of what he says doesn't mean much to me. But when he says things and it's the musi
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5+ out of 5.
Brilliant writing advice, brilliant conversation, brilliant everything. I'm keeping this by my desk to remind me of all the things I'll inevitably worry about / doubt myself about when writing.
Evan Engle
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too Short by a mile.

Loved this, but it left me wanting more. 109 pages of Ursula is not enough. Makes me want to own everything she's ever written.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ursula K. Le Guin in a national treasure & pretty much, complete perfection. She is missed.
Jordan Mcdowell
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft-books
I came away from this book feeling an enormous amount of respect for Ursula Le Guin, and feeling inspired to learn more and write more thoughtfully.
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Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, Orego ...more
“I wrote an essay about the rhythm of Tolkien’s writing in The Lord of the Rings. Short rhythms repeated form long rhythms; there’s a cyclical repetition in his work which I think is part of why it totally enchants so many of us. We are caught in this rhythm and are happy there.” 1 likes
“What you wrote above the nightingale is so interesting, Mr. Keats, please tell us more.” 0 likes
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