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Cheek by Jowl by Ursula K. Le Guin

Cheek by Jowl (2009)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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This book had a lot of interesting things to say about animals especially. Although the staunch atheistic and sometimes even anti-Christian point of view disappointed me there is still a lot to recommend in this analysis of animals, fantasy, and children's literature. Le Guin is consistently an excellent, personably writer with a unique perspective that, I believe, accurately reflects the thoughts of many readers of SF&F. ( )
  never_sam | May 16, 2018 |
Very interesting thoughts on writing fantasy. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I love Ursula Le Guin's non-fiction -- her thoughts on writing, her thoughts about the genre. Her prose is generally easy to read, even when she's talking about something people are more likely to consider dusty, and she has a sense of humour that would probably make just about anything delightful. The only problem I have with Cheek By Jowl is more or less that I wish there was more of it. She has things to say about the importance of fantasy, and the way that fantasy is cheapened and used nowadays, and morality in fantasy and children reading fantasy and the timelessness of fantasy. I kind of want to run out and buy every book she discussed in her essays.

But I wish there was more. I came to the end and thought, yes, okay, but she could say more. I guess I might wish it was a volume more like The Wave In The Mind, eclectic and full of surprises, whereas these were all pretty close in theme. Or that it was just longer.

None of it exactly came as a surprise to me, either: I know Le Guin and her thoughts on fantasy reasonably well. Still, she says some important things -- particularly in "Assumptions About Fantasy" -- and she should be listened to, for many reasons. In fact, I know several people whose faces I kind of want to rub in it, just to make it quite clear that they're not the only wonderfully enlightened people in the world. But that's petty. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Wait? What? Me giving another five star rating to a book by Ursula K. Le Guin? You're all surprised, aren't you?

If you have the slightest interest in fantasy or Young Adult literature, don't let my vaunted fannishness get in the way of reading this book. It's a masterpiece of cogent analysis, of wise observation, of deep and abiding love and respect for the classic works of what Le Guin insists on calling Kiddilit. She touches on some of my own favorites here, including works by Kipling, Tolkien, Anna Sewell and Felix Salten.

She also discourses in an entirely satisfactory fashion about the evolution of the Earthsea Cycle.

It's a wonderful book, made more wonderful by the authorial voice. A few quotes:

"The Jungle Books contain stories that one may read happily at ten and understand with a hard jolt at forty-five."

"But careless reading of carefully written fantasy will not only miss nuance, it will miss the whole nature and quality of the work."

( )
1 vote satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This was more like a quick skim than a read when I discovered it was due and on hold by someone else. It is a book of essays about fantasy. I enjoy Le Guin's essays very much. I've read some of her other books of essays with similar subject matter, and found this one enjoyable as well as a good source of information. It mostly seems to deal with the lack of serious criticism given to fantasy since it was relegated to a status of being for children. It included a longish essay about animal tales - which made me want to read Bambi, apparently very different from the Disney version. That is the one I remember, but she also mentioned other books that I had not heard of before that sounded good. Among the books she mentioned were some by Kipling, The Jungle Book of which I've read at least part - maybe only Riki tiki tavi, Just So Stories, which I haven't and Kim which I haven't. She was decrying that these books are treated by critics/scholars as not worthy of the consideration given to his "adult" works. She especially holds Kim in high regard and I want to read it now. ( )
  solla | Sep 27, 2009 |
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A collection of talks and essays on how and why fantasy matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin. In these essays, Le Guin argues passionately that the homogenization of our world makes the work of fantasy essential for helping us break through what she calls ''the reality trap.'' Le Guin writes not only of the pleasures of her own childhood reading, but also about what fantasy means for all of us living in the global twenty-first century.
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