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Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her esteemed 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, “I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.” And what a fierce truth our Portland neighbor told, right up until her journey’s end. Whenever we had the great fortune to publish her, we would take page proofs up the hill to her house, where she would chuckle at our foolishness over tea. In this issue we present a last, long short story, “Pity and Shame,” which is filled with her trademark inventiveness and dark humor. I imagine she would be happy with the company in these pages, the other six short stories along with the three essays, all written by women. The passed torch burns bright in the hands of Catherine Lacey, who, in her story “The Grand Claremont Hotel,” concocts an infinitely pleasing luxury hotel. You can also see the fiery connection in emerging writer Abbey Mei Otis’ fiercely imagined story “Rich People.” Elissa Schappell divines the magic of Chartreuse, a botanical liqueur made by Carthusian monks in silence and secrecy (the formula of one-hundred-plus herbs has been locked away for centuries). The liqueur was originally formulated in the eighteenth century as the “Elixir of Long Life,” but one wouldn’t be surprised if it had been conjured by the mind and pen of Le Guin. She will be deeply missed. Luckily for all of us, her words and spirit live on.
[The print edition of this issue is currently out of stock.]