The story is not all mine, nor told by me alone. Indeed I am not sure whose story it is; you may judge better. But it is all one, and it at moments the facts seem to alter with an altered voice, why then you can choose the fact you like best; yet none of them is false, and it is all one story.

—Genly Ai

A fitting beginning to our correspondence, our reading responses. I will read, and write my impressions. You will do the same. We will write to ourselves and to each other, write a new story that is an extension of the book we each hold in our hands. Our audience is ourselves, two women, two friends–I am reading, writing, and blogging with Meredith. Self and other. In this first post, we cannot know what the other will write, we are wildly different (I expect). As we continue, will we begin to soften our differences, blend our ideas, or will we be like a being with two faces, sharing the same text, the same corpus, but looking out in opposite directions?

So we know at the opening of The Left Hand of Darkness that we are going ask our selves continually, who is speaking, whose truth, how are these different perspectives of the same story? Whom do we trust, and how, in this story?

There are contradictions throughout the opening chapter: it is hot during the parade, though the country is normally frigid. The parade seems like a festival, but we learn that the central event, the installation of a bridge keystone, is mortared with blood and bone. Gender is not fixed. Genly Ai formed a careful alliance with a high-ranking member of the royal court, but by the end of the chapter is betrayed. Take a sip of sour Karhide ale, lean in: things aren’t what they seem. We’re on shaky ground, and the only way forward is to read on, hoping to make sense of the world of the book.

Here is Meredith’s first post on Chapter 1 of Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.