January 9th, 2004

breaking bad

crossing the ice barrier

I have just re-read The Left Hand of Darkness, as as result of reading this article at the weekend. I am making a safe assertion when I say it is an excellent book: I suspect most of you have either not read it, so will give me the benefit of the doubt, or have read it and will agree.

But sometimes one forgets what 'an excellent book' means. I picked up my old paperback from a low bookshelf very late on Tuesday night, and I was still sitting, freezing and tired, on the bedroom floor next to the bookshelf, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. I think sometimes U LeG can fall of the edge into twee, into wish fulfilment. I think she avoids that danger in this case.

Since I last read this novel, years ago, I have learned a lot more about the Tao Te Ching and read U LeG's own translation of it. This has enriched my pleasure in the book.

I would love to see a film made of Left Hand of Darkness. I think that would be a massive cinematic challenge. For those who don't know, all the characters in the book, apart from the male visitor to the planet from earth, are androgynous. There is a deal of unresolved sexual tension between the alien visitor and sacked Prime Minister of the country, Estraven. Casting is an interesting question: the earth man is black, and is described as youthful and fresh faced. However I might be tempted to cast him as older and more masculine, so that the contrast with the androgynous natives is easier to represent. Estraven I might cast with a young male actor, and play up the feminine aspect of his appearance. Most of the powerful natives, the King, the religious leader, the secret policeman etc. I would cast using older women.

Hang on, this could be some kind of dream film for me.