REVIEW: “The Narrative Gift as a Moral Conundrum” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Review of Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Narrative Gift as a Moral Conundrum”, in Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans, eds., Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer (Hydra House Clarion West Writers Workshop, 2021): 113-117 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I was let down by this piece, because I felt the title promised something that was never delivered on. The conundrum Le Guin identifies is this:

I believe a good story, plotted or plotless, rightly told, is satisfying as such and in itself. But here, with “rightly told,” is my conundrum or mystery (p. 114).

But what is the moral dimension of this conundrum? I even read the essay twice to see if I had missed the moral aspect the first time around, but didn’t learn anything new the second time around.

I’ll probably read it a third time, on the assumption that the flaw lies with me and not the essay, but it does seem like this piece was included more because of who it was written by than because of what it said.

(First published on in 2004, reprinted in No Time To Spare, 2018).

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The Narrative Gift as a Moral Conundrum” by Ursula K. Le Guin

  1. Maybe the morality is there because some people have the gift and some people don’t?
    Or actually: because both books were enjoyable even though Le Guin says that The Help was more exploitative, less respectful of its subject. And yet still fun to read!!
    The Help was “rightly told” (despite being slightly problematic), and that’s the moral problem.
    I loved the essay and loved how your review made me think more about it! Thanks.


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