Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MATHHEW KORFHAGE & r & Powers


by Ursula K. LeGuin & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & E & lt;/span & ncomiums have been heaped on the shoulders of J.K. Rowling for single-handedly making America love books. (Or else by tag-teaming with Oprah.) Rowling is, presumably, the ladder they kick away behind them on their way to becoming transcendently literate. And it's true: There's something in the nature of fantasy that naturally appeals to the young. It describes worlds as alien and fascinating as the strange and terrifying world that children are actually born into. What's more, fantasy is upfront with its strangeness and terror; it gives it to you outright, the way a child actually experiences it. In its own way, it's as honest as it comes.





But it doesn't do its job if it lies to you, if it papers over the lives of the people in those foreign places, if it ties up their loose ends too neatly or makes morals come cheap. The most adult things I read in the fourth grade -- the truest, the most real -- were Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series.





Contra Rowling and her (admit it) often simplistic moral universe, Portland author Le Guin peoples her worlds with mutable characters motivated complexly, humanly, not by inner wellsprings of grab-bag good or evil. Her newest, Powers, is part of her second series to be written expressly for children (age 11 and older). Osten-sibly the story of an escaped slave and his gift for "remembering," the book primarily documents protagonist Gavir's discovery of the various forms of bondage and trust, as he moves from the house of an aristocratic family to a clandestine village of escaped slaves, then on to his homeland to perhaps discover his identity.





The story, of course, is in the form of a Bildungsroman, a progression of an exceptional boy from innocence to something else. Gavir doesn't find greatness or revelation, however, but a means of suspension in his own rootlessness. Le Guin has written a book for those who believe that fantasy should be something that broadens life rather than allowing escape into a sanitized version of it.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • An Eye for Every Storm
  • An Eye for Every Storm

    After losing out to Idaho Falls, Coeur d'Alene gets its crisis center; now the city has to prove it works
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • 'Evil Intent'
  • 'Evil Intent'

    Monique Cotton resigns from Spokane's parks division; plus, Washington state lawmakers take up the issue of police violence
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • The Macy's Plan
  • The Macy's Plan

    Council President Ben Stuckart doesn't just want to sit back and let the market decide what happens to the Macy's building
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Monster Jam

Monster Jam @ Spokane Arena

Feb. 5-7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • Sacred Mt. Spokane

    Economic possibility is not a good enough reason to destroy the Spokane Tribe's holy land
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • White Men With Guns

    The illegal occupation in eastern Oregon is the epitome of white privilege
    • Jan 7, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

ELECTION 2016


Comment


Briefs


Marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • The Wizard of Spokane
  • The Wizard of Spokane

    Erick Hansen convinced everyone. Politicians. Rich investors. Even Michael Jackson's dad. Then the FBI yanked back the curtain
    • Feb 27, 2014
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation