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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.

 

Book 77/100: Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

Wild Seed - Octavia E. Butler

I've put off writing this review for weeks because this is one of those books that it is hard for me to be articulate about.

The experience of reading this book is claustrophobic at times; this is an interesting juxtaposition with the fact that its central characters are immortal or nearly so,which seems like it should lend itself to a feeling of "expansiveness." Instead, despite her immortality and her incredible shape-shifting and healing abilities, Anyanwu spends much of the book "trapped" by Doro due to her reluctance to put her children in danger or subject them to his manipulations.

Despite her entrapment, Anyanwu never feels totally "powerless" -- even as a prisoner, she loves those around her even when they appear abhorrent or unlovable. She's an almost Christlike figure and embodies the idea of "feminine strength" that persists no matter how much the world tries to control or break her down.

I really hated Doro.

Other references I read to this book made it sound like a love story between Doro and Anyanwu. It's more of a "love-hate" story. There's a whiff of Beauty & the Beast in the idea that perhaps Ayanwu's strength and goodness can save or change Doro throughout the centuries. I feel conflicted about their relationship and the book in general. It is not an easy book to read because it offers no easy answers to subjects of consent, dominion, sex, or history. The historical details are vivid, which is not really pleasant in colonial, slave-driven America. I wish the questions this book wrestles with were not still so relevant today.