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Ursula K Le Guin s Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences is a revelation All the stories, poems, plus two novelettes in this collection deal with worlds seen through the eyes of animals and even vegetation As the author writes in the introduction And for the people Civilization calls primitive, savage, or undeveloped, including young children, the continuity, interdependence, and community of all life, all forms of being on earth, is a lived fact, made conscious in narrative myth, ritual, fiction This continuity of existence, neither benevolent nor cruel itself, is fundamental to whatever morality may be built upon it Only Civilization builds its morality by denying its foundation.I particularly liked the novelettes Buffalo Gals, Won t You Come Out Tonight and Vaster Than Empires and More Slow About half of the short stories and poems are also of uniform excellence Which is not bad for a work cobbled together from previously published material over a long period of time. These stories and poems are wonderful One of the stories, The Author of the Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts From the Journal of Therolinguistics, I ve read before.Not sure where But I loved it just as much the second time around And it s because of this story that I can t understand why Ken Liu s The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species has been so lauded no offence to him in the slightest, I am a Liu fan, but Ursula already wrote that story, better, in 1974. Reading Ursula K Le Guin is often a transformative experience she never fails to provide new worlds to explore and new ways of looking at old ideas, or in this case, old ways of looking at newfangled colonialist ideas This collection of short stories and poems links the exploitation of the land and nature with colonialism although she does not employ the term , and the devaluing of women and children As she states in the introduction By climbing up into his own head and shutting out every voice but his own, civilized man has gone deaf He can t hear the wolf calling him brother not master, but brother He can t hear the earth calling him child not father, but son.I think it s accurate to say that throughout this collection, particularly in the first story, Buffalo Gals, Won t You Come Out Tonight, Le Guin attempts to write from an Indigenous worldview, personifying important animals like Coyote and Chickadee Given that the components of this book were written in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I thought it was quite remarkable As a reader in 2019 I wanted her to explicitly reference colonization colonialism and name honour the groups she was attempting to stand with as an ally I highly recommend reading this article The NishPossessed Reading Le Guin in Indian Country for a bit of a deeper analysis of Le Guin s background as the child of anthropologists and the incorporation of indigeneity in Le Guin s work.For me, the most interesting story in this collection was Vaster than Empires and More Slow, set in the Hainian universe and the only really sci fi story of the collection The story looks at a group of researchers surveying potential habitable worlds, who all have their own mental health and personality issues but particularly struggle with one colleague who s described as an autistic in this case meaning that he was isolated and unable to function in society as a result of being extremely empathic and overwhelmed by others emotions When the group explores a new planet, his role becomes crucial and the dynamics between the people and life on the planet are fascinating Again, the language she uses around neurodiversity is a little uncomfortable in 2019, but her portrayal is incredibly sensitive and nuanced and succeeds at really making the reader feel the pain of stigma against people who are neurodivergent My biggest qualm with this collection was simply that Le Guin over introduces some of the stories and poems in a way that really affects the first reading, in some cases spoiling twist endings Some of the stories also feel quite repetitive, including several that use a bait and switch technique by revealing the narrator wasn t who you thought it was They re good on their own but it hurts the surprise to read them next to each other.If you re going to pick this up, I d suggest reading Buffalo Gals , Vaster Than Empires , and everything from Schrodinger s Cat to the end of the book, but avoiding reading the introductions to each piece until after you finish them. Ursula Le Guin is such a consummate word smith that her books are never boring.But I just couldn t get into this one It s written from that modern Indian with Coyote in sneakers POV, which isn t exactly my cup of tea.From the back cover By climbing up into his own head and shutting out every voice but his own, civilized man has gone deaf He can t hear the wolf calling him brother not master, but brother He can t hear the earth calling him child not father, but son And Ursula K Le Guin does hear the animals voices, and as she shows us in this luminous collection of one novella, ten stores and eighteen poems, they are magical, fascinating and terrifying In the title novella, a child survives a plane crash and enters the Dream Time of primitive myths, where the coyote knows secrets about that world and this one In other stores we journey further into unknown realms, like the deep space planet where only fear dwells, or the unfamiliar worlds of wolves, rats, and horses whose realities make us question our own I didn t like the poetry at all, and neither did I care much for the prose writings All in all, a disappointment for me, as normally I adore this author s work. [ FREE ] ♴ Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences ⚆ The Bestselling Author Of The Earthsea Trilogy, The Left Hand Of Darkness And The Dispossessed Presents A Collection Of Short Stories And Poems That Takes The Reader Into A Magical, Whimsical World Where The Line Between Human And Animal Is Quite Different From Our World Winner Of The Hugo And World Fantasy AwardsContents Come Into Animal Presence Denise Levertov Buffalo Gals, Won T You Come Out Tonight Three Rock Poems Basalt Flints Mt St Helens Omphalos Mazes Wife S Stories Five Vegetable Poems Torrey Pines Reserve Lewis And Clarke And After West Texas Xmas Over Crown Of Laurel Direction Of The Road Vaster Than Empires And Slow Seven Bird And Beast Poems What Is Going On In The Oaks For Ted Found Poem Totem Winter Downs Man Eater Sleeping Out White Donkey Horse Camp Four Cat Poems Tabby Lorenzo Black Leonard In Negative Space Conversation With A Silence For Leonard, Darko, And Burton Watson Schrodinger S Cat Author Of The Acacia Seeds And Other Extracts From The Journal Of The Journal Of The Association Of Therolinguistics May S Lion Eighth Elegy, From Duino Elegies Of RM Rilke She Unnames Them A Spirited, Gracefully Polemical Introduction And The Final Story, She Unnames Them , Frame This Collection Of Fiction And Poetry, Placing It In A Natural But Unsentimental Light These Are Not Really Talking Animal Stories They Are About Human Apprehension Of Natural Creation Including Rocks And Plants And The Relations This Apprehension Governs Or, How Communication Makes Communities Seven Of Ten Stories And Seven OfPoems Having Already Been Published, While A Couple Of Pieces Read Like Working Drafts Among The Best Pieces Is The Title Story Like Many Of The Others, It Works Its Effect Through A Reversal Of The Usual Human Point Of View Library Journal
Rating is for the novella, Buffalo Gals, Won t You Come Out Tonight, which is wonderful LeGuin at her very best I need to reread the collection.I didn t much care for the illustrated version, The illustrations didn t work for me But don t miss the title story Also available elsewhere, Ah, Ms Le Guin, I would devour anything you put before me, even short stories and essays In this collection we see her ability to look from incredibly diverse perspectives, forcing us to perceive life in so many different ways My personal favorites Mazes, The Wife s Story, and The Direction of the Road, this last fills my mind whenever I am walking, biking, or driving past trees and I fear for them. My favorite author bar none , Ursula K Le Guin, is hard to categorize Her stories here, some fantasy, some science fiction she prefers the label speculative fiction all share an animal perspective or a shift in perspective from the dominant human one Some are short stories one is probably a novella she disrespects others labels in beautiful ways. Ursula K Le Guin turns perspective on its head in these short stories Each are from a new and surprising perspective and the poetry is just as surprising and wonderful Great book of short stories I need to read her Hainish Cycles books now. This short story collection marks my first time reading anything by Le Guin The author s reputation preceeds her but this book is a real mixed bag for me I liked the titular novelette, Buffalo Gals, Won t You Come Home Tonight If all the stories were like this one, I d be giving the book a higher rating Buffalo Gals blends native American mythology and the modern, real world in a dreamlike way that changes depending on who s perceiving it I found Coyote a vivid, oddly endearing character despite all her gross mannerisms, and the minor characters seemed random in a genuine sort of way the way real people are random Another story I liked was Author of the Acacia Seeds , a translation of ant lore Ah, I do appreciate any story that allows non humans their own quirks of language and self awareness And May s Lion makes profound meaning out of a senseless animal death It started out in a humble, folksy voice and quickly surprised and moved me.But I didn t connect with the other stories and poems much Many of them seemed stiff to me, and many are reliant on life is senseless and cruel as a message or a plot twist That falls flat for me because I don t consider sadism to be automatically meaningful It frustrates me when a fantasy sci fi story builds up an interesting scenario just for the sake of saying, And then this character s life continued to suck, The End In particular, The White Donkey ended in a nihilistic anticlimax and made me want to throw the whole book out the window Like I say, a mixed bag for my tastes One suggestion I have for others planning to read this collection skip the forewords until you ve read their accompanying stories Many of Le Guin s forewords skew the reading experience in a way I found intrusive possibly because she admits to ignoring other writers forewords One foreword outright tells the reader that the following two stories are not about X and Y, so don t interpret them as X and Y You know that example where someone says Don t think about elephants and you re suddenly fixated on the thought of elephants Yeah, it s like that My mind was cluttered with the X and Y I wasn t supposed to think about Not the best way to approach a speculative story which is a shame, because Le Guin clearly respects the power of animal characters.