So Far So Good

Copper Canyon. Oct. 2018. 100p. ISBN 9781556595387. $23. POETRY
OrangeReviewStarThe January 2018 death of Le Guin was a loss not just for sf and fantasy readers but for American letters; her range included nonfiction and poetry, always unhackneyed and perceptive. Poets, enchanted by the difficulty of language, often work by indirection—humor, irony, surprise—while novelists take pains to convey meaning, even when they write poetry, and Le Guin was of that class, with writers such as May Sarton, Reynolds Price, and Willa Cather. This fine collection, completed shortly before the author's death, exhibits the humane, undeceived warmth of all her writing, including a touching series of elegies to past experience or departed persons and a sequence inspired by the difficult journey of Capt. William Bligh—post-Mutiny on the Bounty—to the island of Timor. Although Le Guin's work does not much resemble the jokey surrealism currently fashionable in poetry, she is excellent company, intelligent and frequently razor-sharp wise. She offers the testimony of a practiced writer with layered insights into old age, as too few have done before her, and we willingly follow her as she threads the "maze whose gate and goal are mystery."
VERDICT Le Guin's last completed collection should be accessible to a wide range of readers, including her fiction fans; her keen and eloquent style engages age, memory, nature, time, and perception.

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