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Always Coming Home (1985)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: Todd Barton (Composer), George Hersh (Geomancer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,931197,379 (3.89)1 / 118
A complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music about the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific coast.
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» See also 118 mentions

English (18)  Swedish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Love this book! It was a little confusing at first, but after I learned that it was written as different people speaking, it made it much easier to read. I still am not sure who the anthropologist is in the beginning. I would recommend this book but – be patient. – Reviewed by Mona ( )
  GalsGuidetotheGalaxy | Oct 14, 2021 |
Se me ha terminado haciendo tan cuesta arriba que la parte final (la que el propio libro dice que es informativa y no narrativa) la he dejado sin leer. ( )
  cuentosalgernon | Jun 22, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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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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They might be going to have lived.
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A complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music about the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific coast.

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Book description
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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