Ursula Le Guin. Her name comes up in my writing group. A familiar name but I don’t remember if I’ve ever read any of her books. I resort to Google where several surprises await me. Familiar names and places. She grew up in Berkeley, where I lived for eight years, though our years didn’t coincide. She was the daughter of Alfred and Theodora Kroeber, renowned anthropologists, her father being director of the University’s anthropology museum. Theodora wrote one of my most-loved books, Ishi in Two Worlds, the account of the last Native American living in the wilderness of California. Ishi went on to become a research assistant at the museum, then located in San Francisco. With low resistance to ‘diseases of civilization’, he suffered ill health, spending much time in the University hospital where my great aunt, a nurse there, met Ishi. How I wish I’d asked her about her experience.
These coincidences (serendipity?) prompted me to explore more about Ursula Le Guin. Her novels are classified as fantasy/science fiction, genres that have never appealed to me. None of the titles sound familiar but their descriptions spark my curiosity. Maybe it’s time for this reader to branch out to an untried genre. I definitely want to reread Ishi.
I’ve just spent the past hour browsing her blog which she continues to maintain at the age of eighty-five. Funny, entertaining, thought-provoking, she describes her cat’s antics, shoots darts at book publishers and consumer-based capitalism and talks tough and personally about aging. Blog number 69, The Diminished Thing, is profound. She is now my mentor, my muse and my model.