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Always Coming Home (California Fiction) [Paperback]

Ursula Le Guin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Feb 2001 California Fiction
Both a novel and an archaeology of the future, this book weaves together the stories, histories, strange and familiar customs, art, architecture, poetry, drama and music of The Valley - home of the Kesh.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (27 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520227352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520227354
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 14.1 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award For Life Achievement.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Ursula K Le Guin has always been fascinated by alternate worlds and especially alternate societies. Many of her fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories have been set in detailed and original worlds built up over the course of the stories. With Always Coming Home she has taken a different approach to this process. Instead of explaining the society and its environment through the course of the story (and admittedly also through occasional diversions into lecture) here the setting takes up the majority of the book. The novel is more to illustrate the setting than the other way round.
Much of the book is concerned with explaining the culture, lands and world of a fictional people called the Kesh. They live in a mediterranean-climate river valley in northern California. The world is one of the far future, some thousands of years from now, in which natural and man-made disasters have devastated human civilzation as we understand it. People are now rural and parochial, the old industrial era now no more than legend and bad memory.
The detail of the setting is astounding. The songs, art, technology, beliefs, rituals etc. of the Kesh are all treated with. Their culture is based around a metaphorical conception of the world, which is far too complex to explain here (read, and re-read, the book). It takes a while to understand the Kesh as their society is so unlike our industrial capitalist one. They do have a strong Native American flavour, but think Iroquois rather than Apache.
The novel itself, which is actually just the longest of a number of stories, serves to illustrate the setting by way of the learning of the central character and the contrast with a very different culture in the Kesh's world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an unclassifiable masterpiece 19 Nov 2007
By nieges d'autan VINE VOICE
An evocation of an achievable Utopia, conveyed by an interweaving of first-person life narration, 'anthropological' and 'historical' notes, songs and even jokes, this is an entrapturing read. I tend to return to this book at times of personal crisis; it is neither 'counselling/self-help' literature, nor mere escapism, but it never fails to lift the spirit and calm the heart.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of my absolute favourite reads, it is imaginative, far-reaching, varied, unusual, heart-breaking, challenging, philosophical - a meditation on what it means to be human; a not-so-fanciful imagining of what it might be like to live in a distant post-cataclysmic future.
This wonderful book contains stories, poems, songs, drawings, maps, plays, even a dictionary of sorts; and if you like you can also buy a CD with the tunes described in the book.
Magical, mystical, wonderful - and I hope it will some day be rated as a true classic by one of the western world's greatest writers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 30 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an incredible book. I'm awestruck at the imagination and thought in itself, let alone the quality of the writing itself. It's obvious to anyone who has read this that Ursula Le Guin was heavily influenced by the life, works and writings of her parents - Alfred and Theodora Kroeber. In fairness to some of the less favourable reviews this isn't an easy read: it goes back and forth and works in some ways more like an anthropological record than a coherent, linear story. It's not `fantasy' in anything remotely like a `standard format'. It's taken me several months to read, I put it down, then pick it up, but it's sort of made to work well that way. If you are genuinely interested in reading something very different then this should not disappoint.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Le Guin here discards the traditional story structure and offers fragments that like archaeological remains, build up a sense of another culture. In doing so she shows by shadow the failings of our own, but also affirmation that normal humans might well live in a more meaningful way.
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