cover image Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand

Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand

Ursula K. Le Guin. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (193pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016740-0

In these stories, connected loosely but powerfully by their rugged Pacific Northwest setting, LeGuin ( Buffalo Gals ; The Left Hand of Darkness ) portrays residents of a small Oregon shore town with sympathy and no sentiment. Many of the tales center around women drawn together in threes--mother, daughter, grandmother--by illness or death. Passionate, independent and questioning, these characters generally choose, sooner or later, personal freedom over convention, but not without pain. In ``True Love,'' a librarian who summers in Klatsand has a brief affair with a man who opens a bookstore, but is most moved by her feeling of kinship with another woman he sleeps with. Mourning with her deceased lover's daughter, the ``survivor'' of a lesbian couple finds comfort in an unexpected sense of connection among the three of them (``Quoits''). The novella-length ``Hernes'' authoritatively traces the repeated struggles for love and self-reliance among four generations of Klatsand women, from Fanny, born in Ohio in 1863, to her great-granddaughter Virginia, a poet. Idiosyncratic and convincing, LeGuin's characters have a long afterlife. (Oct.)