‘The Ship Ahoy’ by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Ship Ahoy by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1987

The magic trick:

Building the story on a bit of local history

This story starts with one of my favorite tricks: a recounting of how certain things used to be in this certain small town. In this particular case, it’s a brief report on two of the nicer old motels in town. Why do I enjoy this? I don’t know. I guess it just is the kind of history that doesn’t exist anywhere except within a few people in a place. It’s not important. It’ll never in history books or part of actual research. But it’s the kind of history that makes a place a place.

And that’s quite a trick on Le Guin’s part.

The selection:

Then across the loop road, up in the spruce and alder woods, was Hannah’s Hideaway. Most people thought Hannah was a woman it was named for, but people like Mr. Voder could tell you that the man who built it way back in the Depression years had been named John Hannah, an eccentric Portlander with lumber money. He had started out building a cabin for himself there in the woods above Klatsand Creek when there wasn’t anything much in town but the old general store and the filling station and a few houses and summer cabins scattered around between the road and the beach; the loop road was the main road then, part of the coast highway.

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