Always Coming Home discussion

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the book of hers that defeated me - twice. Towards discussions of this book.

message 2: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Can you talk about what you thought of the parts you managed to read? If I've already read it, then it should ring a bell. Meanwhile my copy is around here somewhere. I'm sure I saw it not too long ago...

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 26, 2011 07:23AM) (new)

The part I remember is about a girl who, based on the structure of her society, didn't really have a clan or something, and warriors coming home. Now that I look through it again, I must have been sleepy or something the last two times I tried to read this, because I thought it was a straightforward novel, and it's anything but. It's almost aggressively metafictional, and I am going to have to go breathe into a bag for a while about this. (In a good way.)

One of the first chapters is called Towards an Archeology of the Future.

message 4: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments I'm not familiar with this one at all. The library catalog indicates that it has... music? Is this multimedia?

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, some editions came with a cassette tape - "The Music of the Kesh". I have one edition with and one without. From my leafing around today, this book is like an archeological report on a group of people living in California 500 years from now - so it includes their music too. I've never listened to the cassette tape.

message 6: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments I don't have a tape player, but it is a cool idea.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh! There's sheet music too! In the book!

message 8: by Tatiana (last edited Feb 26, 2011 12:58PM) (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Awesome! I now see that I've never read this one, and I'm really looking forward to it! One obvious point to make is that UKL's father (Alfred L. Kroeber) was like the founder of the anthropology department of U.C. Berkeley, a very famous man in anthropology circles. He studied the languages and cultures of various tribes in California. She grew up with family members from other cultures, one called Ishi, who was the last member of his tribe. Her mother wrote a book about Ishi.

So UKL's early life was filled with these ideas, and these connections. I think they influenced her work a great deal. She seems to touch deeply on the relations between the personal level and the scientific level or societal level, and how those two levels are often in contradiction to one another. She's sometimes called an anarchist (a name she doesn't reject) because the order of society, in her works, is often at odds with or even violative of the personal integrity of her characters.

message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian | 42 comments Just came home from the library with a copy! Yay!

Amazon has a good selection of the various editions of this book, including the editions that came with the cassette tape. Maybe I can get a copy and listen to it on my Walkman while I do aerobics.

message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 26, 2011 11:24PM) (new)

I need to admit, as I think I have elsewhere, that I superstitiously have never read Always Coming Home because I have to have something to read after she dies. I still haven't read Lavinia, but that's my preference for her speculative fiction, not my emotional primativism at work.

message 11: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana | 144 comments Mod
Oh, Lavinia is marvelous, though! I have to say I'm hoping UKL lives a long time after I'm gone, and keeps on writing the whole time!

I started listening to all her interviews on the web, and watching all the vids last year, and she reminds me so much of my aunt Nonie, who was around her age and who lived in California most of her life, and died year before last. I also read her (UKL's) stuff from the time I was a young girl, and feel I learned so much of the moral framework of my life from her that she really feels to me like a close relative, like an aunt or cousin or something.

I told this story to Ceridwen and others already on GR, so forgive me for repeating myself, but I read that she loves to get snail mail from her readers. So I wrote her a letter apologizing for the fact that I'd never visited her or called her on her birthday or anything like that before but I'd only just realized we were related. I told her a little about Nonie and thanked her for all her wonderful stories and a few weeks later I got (squee) a hand-written note in reply that was just delightful! She signed it Cousin Ursula!

I love this woman!

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

So, maybe this is silly, but I've started a thread for the group read discussion of this book:

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Also, a few links about the music that is part of this book:

UKL's website:

Todd Barton's website. (He is the musician.)

Four audio tracts available (legally) for download:

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