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The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination Paperback – February 17, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (February 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590300068
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590300060
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Le Guin is stimulating company. A profoundly creative and prolific fiction writer who has won a half-dozen major awards and enticed readers to science fiction who otherwise might not have ventured into that fantastic terrain, she is also a forthright, incisive, and funny essayist. In her second nonfiction collection, a piquant, morally lucid, and enlivening volume graced with a well-chosen phrase of Virginia Woolf's, Le Guin considers the pleasures and significance of reading, the true meaning of literacy, the power of the imagination, and the writer's responsibility. On a memoiristic note, she remembers her anthropologist father and Native American family friends. On the literary plane, she praises libraries as sacred places that embody freedom, pays homage to Borges and Twain, dissects the assumptions behind the designation "creative nonfiction," and analyzes the "rhythms of prose." And Le Guin is breathtakingly hilarious on the subjects of age, beauty, and womanhood. Candid, earthy, and deeply involved in the human experience, Le Guin is artist, mentor, and friend. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Essential reading for anyone who imagines herself literate and/or socially concerned or who wants to learn what it means to be such."—Library Journal

"What a pleasure it is to roam around in Le Guin's spacious, playful mind. And what a joy to read her taut, elegant prose."—Erica Jong

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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
Maybe it's not a big one, but I think it's kinda outdated.
I. I recommend it to anyone interested in reading, writing, feminism, stories, or family.
G. DeCandido
The examples, stories, and allusions throughout are clear and strong and elegant.
Lori L. Lake

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Lori L. Lake on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Having read and enjoyed LeGuin's previous non-fiction works (particularly DANCING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT, and her writing book, STEERING THE CRAFT), I expected an interesting and entertaining volume of essays. What I got far exceeded my expectations. I was enchanted from the first words, and I could hardly wait to read as many of these pieces as I could gulp down each night. When I finished, I was unhappy it was all consumed. I wanted more.

The book is a cornucopia of variety. There are serious essays, playful performance pieces, literary commentary, a long and wonderful poem entitled "The Writer on, and at, Her Work," and even some sketches LeGuin has done. The volume is separated into four sections: Personal Matters, Readings, Discussions & Opinions, and On Writing. The first section gives the reader a glimpse of who Ursula LeGuin is. She talks a bit of her family, of her parents' occupations (anthropologist father and biographer mother), and of her love of libraries and islands-imaginary and real. The next two sections cover all sorts of topics. Whether she was discussing awards and gender or the submerged humor of Mark Twain's "Diaries of Adam and Eve" or literacy or rhythm in the works of JRR Tolkien, I felt I was in sure hands. I must admit that I expected the essay, "Stress-Rhythm in Poetry and Prose" to be deadly dull. Instead, I was surprised beyond my wildest imagination to find that for the first time in my entire life, someone had actually explained meter and rhythm so that it made complete sense to me. I had one of those "Aha!" moments, suddenly understanding it in a way that I had never quite managed. (So _that_ is how iambic pentameter works so effectively!) I've been raving ever since about rhythm to all who will listen.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Addison Phillips on August 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ms. Le Guin's latest collection of essays and "nonfictive" writings looks like one of those books that is dull, scholastic, dry, and unentertaining. But...

I don't think she can write anything in those four modes. Although some of the topics look unapproachable (anyone up for counting the number of stressed syllables in "The Three Little Bears"?) it is her craft as a writer that infuses even minute themes with that elusive "readability". I read even the most esoteric of the bits here.

Like her collection "Language of the Night", this book focuses mostly on the craft of writing. It ranges from close examination of rhythm to broad biographical topics.

Unlike some recent collections (Niven's Scatterbrain comes instantly to mind), this book is not just a grab bag of material mouldering on the author's shelf. Indeed, most of the essays have been reworked for inclusion in this volume, making each part more coherent.

On the other hand, this book really should be part of Langauge of the Night. There seems to be something essential missing. As the source material was not purpose written for a book, the theme connecting the items is pretty diffuse. Having access to these writing is good and the book is an easy breezy read (I read all it on a flight from Denver to San Francisco), but maybe a little bit more "connective tissue" is needed. I dunno, I'm still mulling over various things here: I'm writing about four letters to the author in my head. I don't want to be critical and I guess I just wanted more.

So then, if you like to read about what goes on in the head of the author of many classics, whose works continue to astonish and amaze and aspirate in your mind after the book it put away... then here is a morsel that needs your attention.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Merritt on July 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I love (almost) all of Ursula K. LeGuin's fiction. She is a wonderful storyteller whose rhythmic prose struck me and stuck with me even before I gave much thought to the idea of rhythm in prose. (Having children and reading aloud brings a new dimension to story telling.) Her imagined worlds and characters resound deeply with me, and she has earned my trust as one of the consistently best authors I have read.
This non-fiction collection is just as thought-provoking as her best stories. I had to be careful not to "gobble it up" by reading too fast. I'm sure that I will read it again and again. It gives much hope to an aspiring fiction writer whose story hasn't arrived yet. (Turns out I'm just too young; maybe next year.)
I had also worried that perhaps I had read too much to ever be creative in writing; maybe if I begin to write something original, it will come out with inadvertently plagiarized bits of Dispossessed, Lord of the Rings, and Little Women, since those seem to get stuck in my head. The admonition of Ms LeGuin that all good writers ought to read, and read a lot, comforts me. All these years I've just been fertilizing my imagination.
Although I have never met her, it seems that through some of her essays, the separation that exists between her writing and her self narrows, and the humor and wisdom and brightness (luminousness, luminosity??) of her personality shines through. I hope someday that one of the highlights of my life might be knowing her for an hour.
There is always the possibility of a writing workshop, but I really wish I could have heard her "moo"...
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