Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

Dazed and Mystified

I have just completed reading Ursula K. Le Guin's latest novel, Lavinia. It is a work of great depth and I shall enjoy re-reading it as I expect to get more out of it when I do so. I also should re-read the Aeneid, as it is from a minor character in that epic that this novel gets its main character.

The thing that struck me most squarely about this novel is that it is the first time I can recall reading a novel with a self-aware character. The titular character realizes she is a character in a story. She ponders within the pages of this novel if she would exist at all if the poet had not spoken her name. She has immortality because the poet did not, as he did with so many others in his epic, speak of her death.

In addition, Le Guin fills her story with such earthy, simple detail that you find yourself living in the story with Lavinia. Expecting that she might, as a gracious hostess, bring you some honeyed milk and figs while you recline and read her story. I am in awe of Le Guin's power as an author and, particularly, that she has accomplished its expression in a book of 288 pages (vs. the 704 of Amazon's top-selling fantasy novel [as listed at the time of this writing] or even the 430-odd that seems more common). It is a privilege to read an author at what appears to be the height of her prowess.

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