Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Beginning Place by Ursula LeGuin

Different from the books I usually read.   The books I read usually have more plot.  Usually, I have to keep reading to find out what happens next.   It reminded me a bit of Tree By Leaf by Cynthia Voigt. Both are slow-paced, both have a sense of the sacred, and both convey a message.

In the Beginning Place, there's a man and a woman who start off with an antagonistic relationship and end up falling in love.  To me, that is a really trite plot device.  And I hate it most when you don't really see the relationship develop, when it's just like boom, now they are in love, instead of being a relationship that is built over a long time, with the building block of many small interactions.  And this book was one of those without sufficient development.  Yeah, they were starting to work together, a partnership formed by the necessity of circumstances.  And yeah, they went through a traumatic experience together, which bonds people.  But then all of a sudden they are having sex, and then all of a sudden they declare they are married.

So, my main complaint about the book is the abruptness of the relationship.

A good thing about the book is the view of the world: Reality is harsh.  Reality is working a job you don't like.  Reality is trying to protect your parents, but they are crazy and make crazy choices that hurt you, and there is nothing you can do about.  Fantasy provides refuge.  But reality keeps on being real.

Another good thing: Page 175, the female character's experience of being hugged by the male character: "He was a wall, a fortrees, a bulwark, and mortal, frail, easier to hurt than heal; dragonkiller, child of the dragon; king's son, poor man, poor, brief, unknowing soul."

We are just poor humans, fallible, breakable, but the comfort we give to each other is warm and strong. 

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