The Lathe of Heaven
by Ursula Le Guin,
Gollancz 2001 (1971)
For me the sign of a good — or at least stimulating — novel is how much I think about it while I’m reading it and for some while after. Reading The Lathe of Heaven for the first time a couple of decades ago puzzled me, but I knew I’d want to return to it in due course. While there are still aspects that puzzle me I feel I have more of a foothold on the scree slope that Le Guin’s novel presents to us.
Part of the strength of this novel comes from the visual images that function as leitmotifs, along with the sense of place that the novel’s setting in Portland, Oregon provides, in which the three principal players and one or two other supporting characters act out their parts.
Buttressing all are quotes from Daoist texts and references to literature and popular culture which, though placed like bits of collage in the overall schema are actually integral to the author’s composition.