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Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

Always Coming Home (original 1985; edition 1986)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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1,648187,073 (3.89)1 / 110
Ursula Le Guin's Always Coming Home is a major work of the imagination from one of America's most respected writers of science fiction. More than five years in the making, it is a novel unlike any other. A rich and complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music, it totally immerses the reader in the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific Coast.… (more)
Title:Always Coming Home
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:Spectra (1986), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, social fiction, portlandbooksale, read

Work details

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin (1985)

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English (17)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is one of my favourite books and I don't like dystopian fiction and so much better than 5th Sacred thing by Starhawk, which I loathed. Normally I like Starhawk but that is her non-fiction efforts.
It has the added benefit of music to go along with it. She creates a world that is believable and real. Read this instead of 5th Sacred Thing. I don't care if that makes me a terrible Pagan. It's a terrible book. ( )
  Mary_Beth_Robb | Feb 4, 2020 |
Not always a page-turner, but I had a great time in this world.

This felt a lot like the reading I did for my ancient civilization classes in college, but here Ursula K. Le Guin was doing the work of an entire people. I expect I'll be thinking a lot about the folks living in the Valley in the future.

What have I been thinking about already? Here's some

The portrayal of the Dayao is flatter than that of the Urrastians in the Dispossessed, I think. Maybe there just wasn't as much time to develop them - and maybe some of it is just how Stone Telling talks about her life.

The way Le Guin uses language and metaphor to shape a world-view is fascinating (& very self-aware). Examples include referring to all entities in the world as "people," or the way the Kesh identify "giving" and "wealth," or the way that one's child "makes someone a parent." I wonder if she read that Lakoff book.

Reading this book in 20 minute bursts on the MTA is a funny situation to be in.

One of my favorite quotes is from the introduction to the appendix: "Things from here on will be just as fictional, but more factual, although equally true." I think it captures the way she's been playing with fact and fiction and meaning and language throughout the whole book. ( )
1 vote haagen_daz | Jun 6, 2019 |
Sort of an exercise in building a low-tech society set after our industrial modern age. The people of the Valley live a largely peaceful, non-hierarchical communal life that prioritizes listening and understanding, and considers being generous synonymous with wealth. The poor are those who do not give; giving makes one rich. It's fascinating, and I loved the ways the world building was woven into Stone Telling's story, and how the world building sections (hundreds of pages of an anthropologist's notes) enriched my understanding of Stone Telling's sections. That said, the notes were so very long that at times I skimmed them.

This is not a novel, and expecting it to follow the conventions of that form will lead to disappointment. There's a fourteen page glossary, several hundred pages of songs, poems, and novel excerpts from the Valley culture, even extracts from the galactic computer system of the future about the Valley. And there are wonderfully meta moments, like this interchange between Pandora the anthropologist and her interview subject, a librarian of the Valley people:
Pandora: I never did like smartass utopians. Always so much healthier and saner and sounder and fitter and kinder and tougher and wiser and righter than me and my family and friends. People who have the answers are boring, niece. Boring, boring, boring.
Archivist: But I have no answers and this isn't utopia, aunt!
Pandora: The hell it ain't.
Archivist: This is a mere dream dreamed in a bad time, an Up Yours to the people who ride snowmobiles, make nuclear weapons, and run prison camps by a middle-aged housewife, a critique of civilization possible only to the civilized, an affirmation pretending to be a rejection, a glass of milk for the soul ulcered by acid rain, a piece of pacifist jeanjacquerie, and a cannibal dance among the savages in the ungodly garden of the farthest West.
Pandora: You can't talk that way!
Archivist: True.
Pandora: Go sing heya, like any savage.
Archivist: Only if you'll sing with me.

This is a complex work, and I know I didn't get all of it--if I read this many times, I think I would understand something new, or differently, every time. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
My all time favorite title. I long to live there. I've even got the tape of songs ( )
  juniperSun | Jan 5, 2015 |
I love this ethnography of a fictional culture -- it could be the notes for a novel that was never written, but then two-thirds of it would have been discarded under the Kill Your Darlings rule. It's bigger, somehow, for being what it is instead; a multitude of stories, songs, recipes, practices, histories, essays, and other depictions of the lives of people who might live someday. ( )
  Rubygarnet | Apr 2, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barton, ToddComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hersh, GeorgeGeomancersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chodos, MargaretIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopkins, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalzi, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Always Coming Home is a novel by author Ursula K. Le Guin, published in 1985, about a cultural group of humans—the Kesh—who "might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California." Part novel, part textbook, part anthropologist's record, Always Coming Home explains the life and culture of the Kesh people.
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