Spirited, wry reflections on aging, literature, and America’s moral life.
Inspired by blogs that José Saramago wrote when he was in his 80s, the prolific, multiple award-winning Le Guin (Words Are My Matter: Writing About Life and Books, 2000-2015, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week, 2016, etc.) became a blogger herself. In an entertaining collection of more than 40 posts written from 2010 to 2015, she offers opinions on a wide range of topics: politics, age and youth, confounding questions from readers, creativity, public and private expressions of anger, a splendid opera by Philip Glass, the serene ritual of breakfast in Vienna, and, most charmingly, her cat. The collection begins with the author’s mystification over a questionnaire from Harvard, on the occasion of the 60th reunion of the graduating class of 1951. One question “really got me down,” she confesses: “In your spare time, what do you do?” There followed a list of 27 occupations, beginning with “Golf.” If spare time is the opposite of occupied time, Le Guin maintains that all of her time is “occupied by living.” And at the age of 81, when the piece was posted, she observed, “I have no time to spare.” She is at her most acerbic when writing about politics: in 2012 she learned that in 1947, President Truman asked the nation to give up meat on Tuesdays and poultry on Thursdays so that grain could be sent to starving Europeans. Such a request would be laughable today, she reflects sadly: “When did it become impossible for our government to ask its citizens to refrain from short-term gratification in order to serve a greater good?” Even in 2012 she felt in exile: “I used to live in a country that had a future.” Le Guin is at her most tender in posts about her cat, “a vivid little creature…utterly sweet and utterly nutty.”
Thoughtful musings from a deft and sharply insightful writer.