Details: (c) 1985 Ursula K Le Guin 1985; Pub Bantam 1986, ISBN 0-553-26280-7
Verdict: Always coming home is very poetic and thought-provoking, but I personally prefer things with more of a story.
Reasons for reading it: I've been meaning to read this for absolutely ages, mainly because I'm a big fan of Le Guin. And thick paperbacks represent good value for weight when I'm travelling.
How it came into my hands: If I'm not mistaken I got this on a second-hand book spree during one of my trips to California. But I've had it a while and I can't exactly remember where it comes from.
Always coming home isn't really a novel; it's a setting. There are some stories in it, and some poetry, and some straight description, and all those things are well and good, but basically I read for the story and I'm very unlikely to like even a good book that doesn't have one. That said, it's a very interesting setting, and the depiction of it is really exquisite.
The quality of Le Guin's language is what made me persevere with ACH. The effort was justified by the little fragments of characterization and plot scattered through the book. The other thing I really liked was the framing story, with 'Pandora's' commentary and the discussions of the relationship between author / narrator and reader, and between the present and the book's setting in a post-apocalyptic future. I did find it slow going, though.
The trouble with such rich language is that it's infectious. It's bad enough that I'm fighting the temptation to write LJ posts in the same style, but worse than that, my own mental voice is trying to turn into ACH pastiche. Apart from the fact that it's not the kind of writing which is at all forgiving of being done badly, this is very annoying. I need my internal narration to give me a sense of me, and it's really quite disconcerting when what I'm reading intrudes into my thought processes to this extent. Though I think it is an indication of powerful writing when that happens.
Some of the feminist stuff about women and primitive people being all lovely and fluffy while men and civilized people are destructive and out of touch with nature is a bit annoying, but there's not too much of that. And the Kesh society falls short of being over-idealized and Utopian.
I think you probably have to be more literary than I am to fully appreciate ACH. It is a lovely piece though. I think pthalogreen would get a lot out of this, actually. I could send it to you if you like, cos I doubt you'll be able to get hold of it in Hungary. And I'm sufficiently impressed with it that I'd like to unite with its friends.
I've also put up reviews of Life of Pi and Me talk pretty one day which I read while I was travelling last week.
Today is the fifth day, with no weeks yet completed, of the Omer