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SEAROAD: Chronicles of Klatsand by Ursula K. Le Guin

SEAROAD: Chronicles of Klatsand
SEAROAD: Chronicles of Klatsand
Ursula K. Le Guin
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Short Stories & Anthologies
Harper Prism (November 1, 1994)
220 pages
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1246 kb
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A tale by the author of the Earthsea trilogy portrays the triumphs and struggles of several generations of women who independently control Klatsand, a small resort town on the Oregon coast. Reprint.

  • Malann
Le Guin is a great science fiction and fantasy writer but she also produced the non-genre works set in Orsinia (Malafrena, Orsinian tales and some of Unlocking the air) and Searoad amoungst other mainstream work. This is a number of (slightly) connected stories featuring the people of Searoad, a sleepy holiday town. Characters do occur in multiple stories but there is no overall plot - just the generally quiet stories of often lonely people. The last story, about half of the book, tells the story of a four generations of daughters who played a key part in setting up the town.

Le Guin always writes beautifully and with great compassion for her characters and this book is another fine, if lesser known, example.
  • Murn
I read SEAROAD a year ago and was immensely taken with it. Recently, in browsing through the Amazon web-site, I noticed that it had not received any reviews. That is a glaring omission, which these comments are intended to begin addressing.

It should be stated up front that SEAROAD is NOT a work of science fiction or fantasy, the genre for which Le Guin is best known. Instead, it is a collection of a dozen short stories that most definitely qualify as conventional literate fiction. All but one of the stories originally were published in magazines or journals over a four-year period. But the stories make for a very compatible collection inasmuch as they share the same setting -- a small oceanside community on the rugged Oregon coast named Klatsand -- and several share characters as well. With regard to both the physical setting and the characters, Le Guin demonstrates that, in addition to science fiction and fantasy, she is quite skilled at writing literate, sensitive, and captivating fiction of a realistic nature. In particular, she has an uncanny ability to get inside and inhabit the minds and souls of her characters.

If you appreciate excellent literate short stories, please don't pass over SEAROAD simply because it is by Ursula Le Guin and you are not a fan of science fiction; you will have deprived yourself of something special. On the other hand, if you are a fan of Le Guin's works of fantasy, you still might give SEAROAD a try; it's very good stuff.
  • Oghmaghma
  • Uafrmaine
Superb writing in the vein of Steinbeck's portrayals of the life of people in California's central valley. A much overlooked piece of work.
Perhaps because Ursula K. Le Guin is known as a fantasy - science fiction writer. Do yourself a favor and read this little gem.

Sonoma Sam
  • Broadraven
A collection of short stories, slices of life really, often in stream-of-consicousness-type styles, about the people who live and work in (and in one case visit) the small town of Klatsand, on the Oregon coast.

The obvious comparison would be to Joyce's Dubliners. And, while the comparison is not a bad one, it is one to be observed more for the differences than the similarities. Each of Le Guin's stories has a different point; it is not all about one kind of thing, like Joyce's "epiphanies." And the writing, while equally fine, is not as precious -- perhaps because Joyce was writing at the beginning of a career, while Le Guin (in 1991) is writing at or near the peak of hers.

The tales range from one page (not really a tale but a prose poem and amuse bouche) to ninety; from the description of a motel and its proprietors to the complex, temporally braided, story of four generations of women.

Some of the stories are moving. Some are breathtaking. One or two left me a bit cold, feeling more like artifice than art. But the book as a whole is a beautiful thing, and American literature is the richer for it.
  • Sha
Others have written thorough reviews; this is not one. However, I am one of those who loved the second part better than the first, but both are interesting and poetic. I just want to add a note that in the back of the book there are 'biographies' of the 4 women in the family, one of which states that Jane gave her property to the state to form Breton Head State Park, but as far as I can tell no such park exists, hence probably the characters are entirely fictional, too, despite their convincing timelines.
  • Aloo
This is my first foray into Le Guin's work.
I should mention that I read fantasy, but am very picky about my tastes in the genre and I generally don't read scifi (I plan to read her scifi work soon!). However, I've read a lot of literary novels and short stories while studying for a creative writing degree (Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, etc.) and I'm comfortable in that genre.

Searoad is definitely in the literary novels/short story collections genre. The stories are all tied together by the setting, in particular, a small seaside town in Oregon. As is often the case with the literary genre, these stories tend to be more character studies than plot-driven novels. From what I've read about Le Guin's scifi work, these characteristics also accompany her other works, differentiating them from other books in the scifi genre.

Remember, these are character-driven, not plot-driven. So if you're used to reading crime, thriller, horror novels, you should prepare yourself for a different type of reading altogether.

That said, I highly recommend Searoad. In it, you'll find compelling, charismatic, interesting characters across different periods of time dealing with all of the things most of us deal with every day.
|TITLE| "SEAROAD: Chronicles of Klatsand"
|AUTHOR} Ursela K. Le Guin
|REVIEWER| Josh Grossman, M.D., FACP
Mentor/Tutor Basic Math
Mentor/Tutor English as a 2nd Language
Mentor/Tutor U.S.M.L.E. III (step three)
|BOOK FORMAT| soft cover
|BOOK PAGES| 193 pages
|BOOK COPYRIGHT| 1991 Harper Perennial: A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
Emblematic of this outstanding text is "Summers of the fifties: Summers of the sixties," rendering this text as a must read for all couples. A copy of this outstanding text should be in all of our City, County and University Libraries. A truly memorable text that should be given to all of our first year medical students to read and to discuss with their Mentors.