Always Coming Home discussion

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 26, 2011 08:07AM) (new)

Here's where we introduce ourselves. I'm Ceridwen, and I have a huge literary crush on Ursula K Le Guin. I've read most of her fiction, and lots of her non-fiction.

For me, Le Guin is the writer I follow most closely. I read books that she recommends, or even just mentions. I watch the movie adaptions, and cry about the movie adaptions. love her failures and seek comfort in her successes. I do not demand this kind of devotion from members of this group; that would be insane. But I'm excited to work through her catalog, talk about the books I've read, and read along with other people who have some interest in Le Guin and her writings.

Thanks!


message 2: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Hi, I'm Tatiana. I've been a fan of UKL since forever. I love her stuff, particularly the science fiction. The Left Hand of Darkness was my favorite until recently, when I read Four Ways to Forgiveness for the second time, and decided I like it best of all.


message 3: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls | 17 comments Hello, I'm Phoenix, and somehow all I've ever read of UKL is some of her fantasy (Earthsea ages ago and The Annals of the Western Shore last year) despite the fact that The Word for World is Forest is one of my favorite book titles ever. I shall be rectifying this situation in the near future. ;)


message 4: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 3 comments Mod
I am Brad, but I wish I were Shevek.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay! Hello all!

I'm still sorting out how this group should work. Tatiana and I were talking about reading Always Coming Home together, and possibly hitting the Earthsea books later, or some of her poetry, not much of hers I've read. So I think to start, I'll set up a group read of Always Coming Home, and then later, if there is any interest in going on, I can set up polls and be all democratic. Or I can set up two group reads, because Always Coming Home is probably not the best intro to UKL. It has defeated me twice, and I'm a screaming fangirl. Thoughts?

The other thing is that folk are welcome to read whatever they like, and just use the group for chat or resources or whatever.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Elizabeth!!!

Two things: how do I set up a group read? (And why don't I know how to do this already?)

And who wants to be a moderator too?


message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments Boo! I'm a fizzy cyst but I love UKL, too! My faves are the original Earthsea trilogy, Voices, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven - but there are many books I still haven't read.


message 8: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 3 comments Mod
I could be a moderator too. And I know how to set up all that jazz, so I'd be in.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 26, 2011 08:11AM) (new)

I noticed that about the stupid notifications. Always on a Saturday too.

And Brad and Tatiana have been modded, until such time when they don't want to be anymore.


message 10: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments I find UKL intellectually interesting but have trouble liking her (except for the original Earthsea trilogy). I'm hoping hanging out with you all will change that.


message 11: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! | 4 comments Hello! I remember the Earthsea books as being ones I checked out multiple times from the library before high school, but I don't remember much beyond that. I think I was confused by Tehanu?

I would love to read more UKL, especially guided by a screaming fangirl to point out things I should notice.


message 12: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
I'm glad to be a mod, but it's my first time so I'll be learning as I go. I'm glad Brad's got experience. I'm still searching out my copies of stuff, but I found one I've never read called Malafrena.

Also, I never appreciated The Dispossessed very much the first time around, but someone from Eastern Europe told me it was the one with the most meaning for him, so I'm looking forward to rereading that one with a new perspective.

For people new to Le Guin, though, what would be the best introduction? Maybe The Lathe of Heaven? I've read it multiple times and still love it. There's something really true in there about the way dreams interact with the real world, reminding me of the Australian aboriginal ideas of the dreamtime and the worldtime as two different aspects of reality. It falls on the border between fantasy and science fiction, so it might appeal to people who like either.

On the other hand, Four Ways to Forgiveness is much more recent and incredibly awesome. It's four tales set in the same solar system, with some minor overlapping of characters but mostly independent. All four are amazing. One is on a theme that seems to recur in UKL's work, that of a coming of age of a child with great gifts, but not the ones that were expected or wanted by the protagonist's family and society.

I love how there are no implausible badguys in UKL's work. Everyone there is someone I've met in my life in one way or another. She doesn't draw bright lines between goodguys and badguys. Her worlds aren't morally simplistic. They're just real. I love that about her.


message 13: by Cass (new)

Cass Thanks for the invite. I am willing to be introduced to a new fantasy author.

I am just sourcing the book now ($68 at Borders...ouch...)


message 14: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Amazon has it used for about $10. That's where I'm getting mine. I think I must not have bought it earlier, when I thought I did.


message 15: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeannekc) Hi, I'm Jeanne. I already have my hands full moderating 2 other groups, so I'll just be along for the ride. Elizabeth drag...er invited me over here ;-)
My intro to UKL was The Lathe of Heaven. And not the book, but the PBS production done way back in the 70's starring Bruce Davison (I have it on DVD and still watch it from time to time). I was most likely stoned when I saw it the first time, but it so impressed me that I went out and bought the book the next day and read it cover to cover in a weekend. At the time I was working my way through everything Robert Heinlein had written and was excited to discover a woman writer of speculative fiction. I've since read much of her other works. Some I've loved, some I've hated.


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian | 42 comments Hi folks. I'm Ian and I'm not new to UKL but I'm not a veteran either. I've read two of the Hainish novels (The Left Hand of Darkness and The Telling) and the first two of the Earthsea books (I tried to read the third but couldn't finish--I'll try again if it becomes part of a groupread or something). I'm quite eager to dig into more of her stuff and learn from the best!


message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments Eh?Eh! - I think everybody was confused by Tehanu upon first reading - in my case upon several more readings, too. I think I only came to terms with it properly after about the fourth time round.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Welcome all new folks!

Tehanu is a bit of puzzler, but I think it got easier, at least for me, when I realized she was talking about coming to terms with trauma: abuse, cruelty, garden variety loss, which is nothing garden variety to the person experiencing it. That's when her dragon metaphor really took off, for me. Puns intended, I guess, even though I'm a little sorry about it.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Good idea. New thread for WTF here:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...


message 20: by Ian (new)

Ian | 42 comments Two questions:

(1) Is anyone allowed to start a discussion topic or must one be a moderator? I'm thinking we need a topic on the Hainish novels.

(2) What are the logistics of the group-read? Do I wait for the reading period to end before I start posting questions and comments about the book specifically? Do I post things under the comment thread named after the book? (... assuming I am not the only person who's started reading it ... ;)


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Uh. I think anyone can start a topic - wait, let me check.

Honestly, I can't tell, but I think you can. Just go to "topics: new" at the top of the topic list, type up a name, and then put it in the appropriate folder. Let me know if this works for you. Jeez, I hope so.

Also, I'm still thinking about how this group-read discussion will work, and I'd lean on Brad, with his experience in the sf group, about how to set something like this up. I'm thinking there should be a separate topic for the group reads, right?


message 22: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments That seems to have worked well in other groups.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay. Setting it up now.


message 24: by Manny (new)

Manny (mannyrayner) I'm Manny. I've been a huge fan of The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven and A Wizard of Earthsea since I discovered them in the 70s. I've read all of those multiple times.

I also really like her short stories, especially The Wind's Twelve Quarters and The Compass Rose. "MS Found in an Anthill" in the latter collection is one of my all-time favorites.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm a huge UKL fan. I have a strong preference for her speculative fiction/heterotopias, though I like her poetry and Catwings as well. I'm less enamored of some of her essays.

The first one I read was The Left Hand of Dankness, when I was somewhere between 12-14. I still think the scene between Genly Ai and Estraven on the ice is extremely moving. I later wrote a paper on the reinscription of compulsory heterosexuality in mating on Gethen; I was glad UKL later described some gender-concordant pairings. As she said in response to some questions about this in 1982 or 83, "Hey, remember that this was published in 1969!" which is fair.

I just gave a professional ethics workshop to a large group in Oregon. One of the film clips I used was the scene in the original The Lathe of Heaven film where George Orr is about to go to "mandated voluntary therapy." The heading on the screen says something like "Portland, Oregon, in the near future" which got a big laugh.


message 26: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) Hello, I'm Terence and I've been a UKL fan since I was a teen-ager and read A Wizard of Earthsea. Of course, then I was reading any fantasy with a map so I can't say I was directed to her by word of mouth or an appreciation of her talent.

That would come later.

@Brad: I wish I were a dragon.


message 27: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Welcome, Diana! I love LHoD too! Join us in the discussion thread for the Hainish novels, where some of us are talking about it.


message 28: by Melody (new)

Melody (satyridae) | 3 comments Hi everyone, I'm Melody. I love UKL unreservedly and re-read her often. I'm lucky enough to live in Portland Oregon, so I get to see her read in person a fair bit.

I adore the Earthsea Cycle, her short stories, her more recent poetry. A Wizard of Earthsea is one of the books I turn to time and time again and which never fails to give me something new. I've enjoyed the Western Shore Cycle, and much of the Hainish Cycle, though I've struggled with some of her older, more philosophical stuff- I don't think I've ever gotten all the way through The Dispossessed.

One of the things I most admire about Le Guin's writing is her economy. She packs more meaning in fewer words than almost anyone.

Happy to be here.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Welcome Melody. I'm extremely jealous of your geographical proximity to UKL.


message 30: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Me too!


message 31: by Robert (last edited Mar 01, 2011 04:09PM) (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments The coolest thing about my visit to Portland was that I was in the home of Ms LeGuin!


message 32: by Melody (new)

Melody (satyridae) | 3 comments My friends laughed at me so much last summer when we were walking in a huge crowd and I grabbed onto the nearest person and hissed, "Look! Up there, about two hundred yards from us, walking away! That's UKL!"

They asked if I'd recognize my mother at that distance, from behind, in a crowd. I didn't get the point of that question, but no- of course not. My mother never wrote any books. :-)


message 33: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Oooh, I would love to get to meet her. Robert, tell us the story of visiting her home. How did you get invited?


message 34: by Robert (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments No, no - just Portland - I should have said, "Home town".


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Robert wrote: "No, no - just Portland - I should have said, "Home town"."

Bummer.

I was in Portland last fall, and due to someone not updating the website like they should have, UKL was listed as one of the speakers at Wordstock. I was over the moon. Eh! was super kind enough to drive me there and everything, and I was doing a peepee dance of joy the whole time. Then - turns out she had canceled a month before because of a scheduling conflict or something. I was pretty crushed. But then Eh! wrote UKL on my behalf, and UKL wrote me back!! Pretty exciting:

http://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/1...

The take home message being that UKL lurks on GR, which is both terrifying and wonderful. And she read my drunk book review. Sigh.


message 36: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Lol, definitely wonderful, and also terrifying... but she actually likes to hear from her readers, so that's pretty awesome! I can't remember specifically but I'm fairly sure the only way I might have embarrassed myself in my reviews of her books is by being just too, too drooly and inarticulately gushy and fangirlish. Surely that won't cheese her off too badly, I hope! Hah!


message 37: by Melody (new)

Melody (satyridae) | 3 comments That is terrifying! Eep! Though if anyone is used to gushing fans, it's got to be UKL.


message 38: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! | 4 comments Right after the ticketseller smashed all hopes, I can still hear the echoes of the f-bomb that was dropped in the lobby of the convention center, heh!

When the most recent poetry/photography book was released, I attended the reading and I don't know that anyone could match the first question asked after the reading was done, the most gushing and forehead-knocking-on-the-ground ramble of a preamble to the tiny little question at the end of the speech. It was hilarious, and kinda touching.


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments When I have encountered folks well known from British TV, I've always been blase. Authors, on the other hand...I was a particularly bad gibbering wreck when I met Catherine Fisher.


message 40: by Robert (new)

Robert (flagon_dragon) | 49 comments Yeah, actually, the ones I've spoken to were nice peeps, too. Angie Sage particularly so.


message 41: by Cass (new)

Cass Perhaps a topic to just discuss who this author is.

I have no idea. I don't really know what genre she writes, what makes her great etc. All I know is that Ceridwen likes her and I think she might be a fantasy author.

I borrowed some stuff from the library (Earthsea and the Telling) which looks more interesting the Always Coming Home, which I found a copy of.

I would like to know if I read ACH whether I am going to get the wrong idea about who this author is.


message 42: by Cass (new)

Cass And I am confused because I just read that you haven't read this book. So why name a group after it and nominate it as the first group read? (That sounds like an angry question as I write that, but it is not, it is just a curious question).


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I actually *haven't* read Always Coming Home, because it has defeated me twice - I'm having better luck this time as a group read. There is already a group called Ursula K LeGuin here on Goodreads, and I was mostly setting this up initially just to do a group read with Tatiana & Ian, but the scope has changed, which is great. I did think about changing it, but I do think the title gets at one of UKL's more constant themes.

I probably should set up a resources thread too, though, for people new to UKL. And something about film adaptions of her books, which I fell into talking about in my most recent review thread. I hope to get to that tonight after work, but if anyone beats me to it, that's cool too. I am also going to be setting up a thread for nominations for another group read, something more accessible to readers who aren't already familiar with her stuff.


message 44: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Cass, it started as a way for us to read this book together, one of the lesser known ones and more difficult ones to get through of this author, of whom we are great fans. Definitely don't read ACH first of UKL's work, if you are new to her. I think the best one to start with is either Gifts or The Left Hand of Darkness with Gifts being the most accessible and LHoD being the most representative of UKL's work as a whole.


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

And here's a thread for nominations for the next group read:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...


message 46: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
As an introduction to the writer, I would say that she's a top tier writer of fantasy and science fiction, and that her books have great literary merit, as well as being fascinating adventures. She's said in interviews that all her books come to her through their characters, who introduce themselves and tell her their stories. It's through her listening to and getting to know her characters that her novels come about.

Her characters are truly amazing. They are real people. That's all I can say about them. The societies they live in are real societies. The only other author of fantasy who has ever made me feel such reality about their stories is Tolkien. With a few deft strokes she's able to paint them, something like the bamboo that comes to life in an ink painting under a Zen master's brush.

She's economical with words, almost spare, very poetic. She says a lot with a little. The most important things she says are to be found in the things she doesn't say. She's subtle and deep. It's some sort of magic, what she does, but not showy elaborate magic like fireworks, but the kind of magic that nature has: mountains, winter ponds, a hawk, or the wind. I can't describe her. Just read her. She's wonderful.


message 47: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Oh, I posted before I realized there was a second page. So, yeah, what they said.


message 48: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls | 17 comments To add to the "who is this Le Guin person" thread of comments, Jo Walton (who I apparently quote a lot) was talking about Georgette Heyer and saying that she was best at writing about nothing, and then out of the blue said that that was exactly the opposite of Le Guin, and that's the best encapsulation I've seen of what I love about Le Guin. The books are all about something, and not in the easy preachy way, but more in exploring the really thorny ethics of how human societies are built and regulate themselves.


message 49: by Cass (new)

Cass Thanks, you explained things nicely.

Well as I have already cracked open Always Coming Home, that is going to be my first. I am reading the 'back of the book' first as I suspect it will help.


message 50: by Una (new)

Una Hello, I am Una. I live in Latvia and study literature.
I read the Earthsea books a few years ago, and particularly "A Wizard of Earthsea" has been one of my favorites ever since. This spring, I discovered "The Left Hand of Darkness" and was absolutely amazed. So that lead me to the Hainish and Earthsea short-er stories, the blog... and I am just beginning to comprehend how much is out there that I was missing.


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