I read only three of these stories and couldn’t finish. There’s an emotional turbulence running through each of these stories that reminds me of both A.S. Byatt and Ray Bradbury, and left me with a profound sense of unease. A strangeness haunts these stories, both metaphorical – as in the tale of a miniature, almost-but-not-quite dollhouse a professor builds as a stress reliever (a microcosm of his world) – and literal, as in the tale of a family who wakes up one day to find their water running red. This is Ursula K. LeGuin at her most skilled – she writes with every bit of A.S. Byatt’s erudite passion about people, intellectual choices, selfishness, and how said choices lead people inevitably into various social and economic classes, where they remain for the rest of their lives. The stories are impressive, literary, and gripping. But I did not like them. The effect they left was both unpleasant and strong, and I’ve found life to be too short to spend my time on that. I am putting this down without regret.
Tagged: A.S. Byatt, book review, fantasy, literary fantasy, literary fiction, short stories, short story collection, Unlocking the Air and Other Stories review, Unlocking the Air review, Ursula K LeGuin, Ursula K LeGuin review