Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Wired: It’s been reported that some of the protesters at Occupy Oakland have been carrying shields in the image of books, including your novel The Dispossessed. How do you feel about that?
Ursula K. Le Guin: Terrific. I am proud and happy that a book — and actually a book printed quite a long time ago now — is still making some waves and being of some use to people thinking about this stuff.
Wired: Did you write any of those books intending to inspire action, or was it purely artistic?
Le Guin: I do try to separate my personal activism — showing up at a demonstration or something — from what I write. I don’t write tracts, I write novels. I’m not a preacher, I’m a fiction writer. I get a lot of moral guidance from reading novels, so I guess I expect my novels to offer some moral guidance, but they’re not blueprints for action, ever.
Wired: In 2008, you wrote an article in Harper’s called “Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading” in which you lamented corporate control of publishing. Have things changed at all — for better or worse — since you wrote that article?
Le Guin: I think they’ve gone downhill. I mean, I think corporate control has just increased as publishing goes into terminal panic about how to handle e-publishing. Maybe this is the dark part of the tunnel and we are going to figure out how to do it, and how to pay writers some kind of decent return for their writing, but at the moment — I don’t teach writing classes anymore, and I’m really glad I don’t, because I would feel very strange about telling people, “Go out there and be a writer, and make a living from it.” I mean, ha. The writers and the editors are very, very low on the totem pole in the world of corporate publishing, and I don’t think it’s very good for books, and I know it isn’t very good for what writers have to buy their peanut butter.
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