Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Keillor omits Portland from Le Guin profile

Today's "Writer's Almanac" has a sketch about Portland's Ursula Le Guin.

Oddly, Garrison Keillor's description neglects to mention the Northwest and Portland, where Le Guin has lived for 50 years.

I have Keillor's Almanac e-mailed to me every day, mostly for its anecdotes about writers. Usually they don't disappoint. Often Keillor shares an illuminating, influential aspect of the chosen author's childhood. He does that in today's piece about Le Guin.

But where a writer lives — the writer's vantage — is also important to his or her writing and should be given its due. Tellingly, the view from Le Guin's northwest Portland home is of Mount Hood).

After placing the author, the description should give some sense of how the place has influenced the writer's work — the settings, the characters, the plots, the tone etc.

I'm no expert on Le Guin so I'll leave it to others to comment, but The Corvallis Gazette-Time's Theresa Hogue touches on the subject in a recent Q&A interview with Le Guin.

Le Guin's answer is short but tantalizing.

Hogue: As a long-time Portlander, how has the landscape of the Pacific Northwest influenced your work? Do you think that your characters or settings sometimes reflect your experiences as an Oregonian?

Le Guin: I grew up in Northern California and have lived in Oregon for 50 years, and those sceneries are all through my stories and poems. The novel “The Tombs of Atuan” grew from my very first trip out to eastern Oregon . . . and “The Lathe of Heaven” is a kind of inside-out love song to Portland, and “Searoad” is another one to the Oregon beach towns . . . The West Coast is my place and its people are my people.

The ellipses beg to be filled in.

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