Book Review

The Complete Orsinia by Ursula K Le Guin

no future until vaccination / please i need future

cw: body image, suicide ideation, mental illness

March 16th, 2021

Weeks and months fly by and nothing changes nothing changes

I am bored and frustrated but not tired, not stressed, not anxious

I am depressed and without hope but still someone apathetic, affectless, whatever that means

There is nothing going on.

There is no purpose no growth, no movement, no sense of… a… future… ah ah

Another Library of America book, another Library of America collection of writing by Ursula K Le Guin, a writer I erroneously dismissed when I was young and less wise, predominantly, I think, because someone I knew who was a terrible person found joy within her work, which tainted it for me. How can something that brings joy to a person who only takes joy in the pain and despair of others, how can a thing that makes a person like that feel good, how can it be a neutral thing?

So much time irrevocably lost, so many futures destroyed by hunger for misery and power

I fully realise the things I lost more and more and more

I have written my books, I have had my adventures

There is nowhere left for me to go

I want I want I want nothing I can have, nothing I will attain, nothing that can happen

I can function and that is what hurts: I cannot just stop, something awful inside me won’t let me stop and I hate it I hate it I hate it I don’t want to participate in this fucked, awful, world because it’s never going to get better and the pleasures that distract from that emptiness just compound the misery deeper.

The consequences of the ignorance I possessed fall harder and deeper and it’s not anyone’s fault but mine and the fact I was forced to be alive

Christ I wish I had the power and the independence and the strength to stop, to disappear, to be gone

I will not participate in an armed revolution, even tho it is all that will wreak destruction on the festering mess of our contemporary world

I have no heart, I have no soul, I am a ghost haunting the fat bald smelly body a moron once lived in

I wish I’d never become wiser

Everything is more comfortable when you’re pig fucking ignorant

Malafrena is one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve ever read; it reads like 19th century fiction, on purpose. I wept repeatedly; it is beautiful. It took me out of the gulf that is my life, for a bit

But I always come back

The book always ends, the dreams always disappear when I wake

Put me in a medicated coma and slowly let me dissolve

///

It’s two, maybe three, days later. Who knows? I’m not counting. Every day is the same; sometimes I go to work, sometimes I stay at home, sometimes I go to the supermarket, sometimes I go to the lake, sometimes I go to the park but nothing changes nothing moves on

Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay

The novel Malafrena is about revolution in a fictional Central European country.

Things matter, the actions of the individuals involved matter: they are doing revolution

Oh how it would feel to matter if something mattered

Anything

Anything

Anything

Mattered.

Le Guin published a collection of short stories set in the same fictional country a couple of years before the novel, and included here are two additional, later, stories set in the same place (the place is called Orsinia).

There is discussion of revolution in the short stories, too, but most of those are set in the latter half of the twentieth century and explore Orsinia on its journey away from Soviet control.

One of the stories is set in 1150 and is about a feudal lord doing a human sacrifice of a priest, which is fun, and the rest are all well-put-together pieces.

The novel, though, is phenomenal, honestly one of the better novels I’ve read for a while.

It is like Tolstoy, Stendhal, Flaubert (obvs in translation, I read neither French nor Russian (nor my own thoughts much I suppose)); it is what John Fowles set out to achieve with The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but without the overcrowding sexism; it’s truly a marvellous piece of work.

None of the stories are as good as the novel and, especially given the publication history, the editorial decision to put the novel, rather than the collection of stories, first in this volume makes little sense (to me).

What do I know tho? Nothing nothing nothing

I’m out of words, I’m out of energy, I’m out of ideas

It has been over a year of this and I know it’s going to be like this for quite a while yet.

I, quite frankly, have had v close to enough.

I will be patient, tho, I’m not in denial of the circumstances.

Had a massive panic attack yesterday after I discovered a writer included in a forthcoming anthology I’m in is a massive white supremacist fascist. 

It hit me hard, because my writing, my work,is meant to be the place where I’m free of the slimey slimey effervescent putrid scum of dickheads. 

It makes me aware tho, that I have given up – and must commit to giving up for the foreseeable future – in living with dignity, living with hope.

Maybe I can push for better existence in my writing career, maybe I have to, because it’s the only place I still exist. And here, but not regularly enough, not properly, not like I used to-

As always I feel too old

There is no future, not until we’re all vaccinated, and even then the future is biege

Order The Complete Orsinia from the Library of America

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