“Rest in peace” doesn’t quite fit a writer like Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, who died yesterday at the age of 88. Her imagination was fierce and wide-ranging. Her essays stoked the confidence and energy of generations of writers, especially women. She bent and questioned assumptions of race and gender in ways that feel fresh and necessary today. Her books were way ahead of their time.
The best thing I could think of to do in her honor was to reread the opening piece from my well-thumbed copy of her collection, The Wave in the Mind.
…if you insist on pedantic accuracy, women have been invented several times in widely varying localities, but the inventors just didn’t know how to sell the product. Their distribution techniques were rudimentary and their market research was nil, and so of course the concept just didn’t get off the ground…. Models like the Austin and the Brontë were too complicated, and people just laughed at the Suffragette, and the Woolf was way too far ahead of its time.
Hard to beat those words. Le Guin was a force in the world. Who’s stepping up to take her place?