Lovely news from Ben Parzybok on twitter from Oregon last night. Among the winners (congrats to all!) of the Oregon Book Award, was Ursula K. Le Guin, whose two-volume Selected Stories received the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.
“. . . Le Guin won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction for “The Unreal and The Real: Collected Stories Vol. 1 and 2.” At 84 Le Guin is perhaps the most decorated author in the state; her many honors include a National Book Award, every major science fiction award and an Oregon Book Award in 1992 for “Searoad.”
Luis Alberto Urrea, the master of ceremonies, began the evening with a humorous, heartfelt tribute to Le Guin. Urrea said he was “a poor boy from Tijuana” who wrote a story based on a family experience that somehow made its way to Le Guin, who asked him to join a workshop she was teaching and befriended him. She chose the story for an anthology she was editing, Urrea’s first sale, and his friends all bought the book and asked him to sign it. Urrea said Le Guin “smoked a pipe back then” and he accompanied her to her first viewing of “Star Wars,” during which she explained all the science errors to him.
“Everything good in my life comes from writing,” Urrea said. “Everything good in my life comes from Ursula. I’m here tonight for Ursula, the queen of America.”
Le Guin accepted her award graciously and first cautioned the audience that they should pay attention to Urrea when he’s writing, maybe not so much when he’s speaking. She remembered that in 1987, the year the Oregon Book Awards began, the award she received was named for H.L. Davis and she presented it to the winner. She touted Davis’ novel “Honey in the Horn” as the best written about Oregon and rued that it is out of print. She remembered the founders of Literary Arts, the organization that sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, particularly Brian Booth, and talked about her feeling for the state.
“I came to Oregon by luck,” Le Guin said, “and lasted 55 years. No plan can beat good luck.”