Always Coming Home

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Rating: 3 stars

I very definitely admire and appreciate this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy it very much. This isn’t a novel, it’s written like a social science notebook, containing fragments of songs, stories, pictures and maps about a small community in California. What makes this different (possibly unique) is that the community doesn’t exist. It’s all a fragment of Le Guin’s mighty imagination. This is something you have to remind yourself of while reading, as it’s very easy to forget, in amongst the breadth and depth of the book.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s really for me. I found the book quite frustrating because of its structure and lack of narrative (even though I knew what to expect going in). I enjoyed Stone Telling’s story (which makes up a significant chunk of the book, split into three sections) but found myself skimming (or even skipping) other bits, especially the poetry.

Le Guin has obviously put so much work into the world, its back story and the people who populate the valley of the Na. Unfortunately, I’ve never been much for poetry, and that (along with ritual song) makes up a significant chunk of the narrative parts of the book (and, now that I come to think about it, the ‘back of the book’ sections as well). Those more appreciative of disjointed narrative, myth and sociology will get much more out of this than I did.

Book details

ISBN: 9780586073834
Publisher: Grafton
Year of publication: 1985

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