LeGuin has been a major influence in my own writing and I have read most everything she has written, including her many short fiction collections and volumes on the craft of writing. Perhaps the only material of hers I've stayed away from is her YA stuff (A Wizard of Earthsea is NOT YA), although a couple months ago I read Very Far Away From Anywhere Else which is an exceptionally thoughtful mainstream coming of age novella. Everyone will discuss The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Lathe of Heaven, and with good reason. There is a reason the former two volumes are so beloved and highly-regarded. The one book of hers that gets short shrift, in my opinion, is Always Coming Home, her far post apocalyptic "anthropological study" of the Kesh, descendants of survivors that live in the Na (Napa) valley region of California whose lives are reminiscent of the Coast Miwok Indians who populated the region before the coming of the Europeans. It's no surprise LeGuin used this societal model, as her father, Alfred Kroeber, founded the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley and chief among his research were the dwindling native American populations in California as they were being systematically exterminated. Additionally, her mother, Theodora Kroeber, wrote the volumes, Ishi In Two Worlds and Ishi: Last of His Tribe, recounting the life of the "last wild Indian" in California, who knew nothing of modern life. LeGuin's family also had a summer house in the Napa valley where she became intimate with the region and its flora and fauna. The structure of Always Coming Home is, to be charitable, unusual. Although there is a narrative (broken into three parts) that follows the life of Stone Telling, a woman born to a Kesh mother and fathered by a member of a militant tribe hundreds of miles away, the narrative itself only accounts for about a third of the book. The other two thirds consist of what you would find in an ethnographic fieldbook: social structure, marriage rites, recipes, stories, poems, and descriptions of how the Kesh conduct their day-to-day lives. When I first started reading, the structure seemed a little off-putting as there isn't the kind of straightforward narrative flow one expects from a novel, but the deeper into the book I got, the more engrossed I became and when I finished the last page I put the book down, realizing I had just read a novel! I have since re-read it twice and each time the book seems utterly new to me, even though I know the shape and the arc of the "story." When it was published in 1985, it was hailed and reviled; hailed because those that saw through to LeGuin's intent and dexterous construction, saw in the volume what I did, and some even welcomed her as one of the few crossover SFF writers to REAL LITERATURE. Reviled because it seemed like LeGuin was shaking her feminist-leaning finger at those who slaughtered the tribes and make people of European descent feel shame and guilt, though they had nothing to do with it. Well, that's a hell of a long way of getting to the point: Has anyone on the forum read Always Coming Home, and if you did, what did you think?