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  #1  
Old Jul 30th, 2022, 08:45 AM
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The Parable of the Sower

July's Book


Whew---the summer doldrums are real, so here is a fun one as we head into August: The Parable of the Sower, a dystopian tale of a blazing Los Angeles by multiple Huge and Nebula award winning author Octavia Butler.

I've read and loved other Butler novels, but this one is new to me. In 2020, this book was adapted into a graphic novel that won the Hugo, hit the NYT Bestseller list, and is currently in development as a film as A24, the gonzo film studio that brought us Everything Everywhere All At Once, Midsommar, and Hereditary.

I plan to read both the original novel and the graphic novel but you can pick one or the other, and we can compare notes.


This is also the place to start putting in suggestions for September!
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Old Jul 31st, 2022, 11:59 AM
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Oh, excellent! This book has been on my to-be-read list for way too long
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 08:17 AM
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Graphic novel version! Hey my dum-dum brain can justify reading that around the edges of the other books I'm trying to work through. (Don't tell that dum dum that all I'm reading nowaways is serial graphic novels, having fallen into the Webtoon wormhole).

Ready for a story about someone stitching clothes together with a needle shaped like a U-shaped conic section.
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 07:49 PM
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Currently 50% of the way through the novel, and it's been veering into grimderp territory for me from the very early pages. How's everyone else getting on with it?
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 08:28 PM
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I am seven chapters in. It’s pretty brutal.… So glad to hear it gets worse… heh.

One thing that is helping me is the matter of fact tone. There’s no horror. There’s no lingering on details. It’s just a flat statement of how the world is. Which is very very horrifying actually but I can tolerate it. I like the narrator’s voice very much, and I like her relationship with her father so far. I love how much she loves him and doesn’t want to disappoint him.
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Old Aug 8th, 2022, 11:10 PM
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Oof, yeah, Iím 50 pages into the graphic novel and I donít know that I can hack this. Nonstop oppressive grimness. The graphic novel is not giving me a good sense of the narratorís voice (they are putting narration on lined notebook paper, which I guess must be a reference to something? Is this a diary in the novel?) nor does she seem to like much of anything. Which is fair enough, everything seems terrible. But this is very much not my jam of genre.
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 07:08 AM
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I am going to say some things in a spoiler button because there are SPOILERS —- but only for the first half You are warned…

ALSO I am on a farm, on my phone, so forgive the BOOGERY TYPING.

 
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 08:12 AM
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I think you're probably right about the merciful distance of text. But it sounds to me like the book and the graphic novel might have taken a slightly different approach to the narration? Half the time in the graphic novel, the notebook-lined narration is very matter-of-fact about the garbage heap the world has become, in the way you're describing. But the other half, it's very much "the world is nothing but pain, and I have a superpower to feel all the pain; here's me feeling it." In the first 15 pages, that includes 'feeling' open festering pustules, severed limbs, and TWO separate instances of
 

So yeah, the graphic novel is not exactly distancing itself from awfulness; it's building it into the core of the narrator. And the art style is very bleak: everything is sepia dry and red aflame and black despair. You literally can't avert your eyes from the motif of ruin and hopelessness.
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 08:48 AM
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Sometimes I wonder if I'm broken, because all the grimdark-bleak-bleak-grim-oh-no-the-world-is-so-terrible has absolutely no effect on me whatsoever, beyond the occasional eyeroll. I don't care about any of the people or what happens to them. I'm like this with The Road as well, FWIW. Big shrugs all round.

I also notice from reviews that a lot of Americans find Parable of the Sower very prescient and relevant, and I wonder how much of my lack of care is down to a lack of US perspective, because here in the UK we just don't have the same social structures. The thought of, for example, not being able to afford to call the fire service is quite far removed from the UK experience so maybe it's harder for me to see the socioeconomic breakdown on display here as plausible.

 


 
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 08:52 AM
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So in the book

 
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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@Filly:
 


I guess I’m delicate. I can’t really deal with all this grimdark. I can eyeroll in retrospect, but as I read it, it’s really hard for me to tolerate.
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 10:11 AM
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Stray thought re: does this ring more true for Americans.

A lot of early American Utopianism is tied up with evangelicalism (the second great awakening). So the vision of making the world better is part of a vision of this world as being fallen and getting worse - millenarianidm, eschatology, the “end times” etc. So I think there could be an argument that with this vision of the new world, being fallen is part of the optimism of what’s to come. I haven’t read far into the book, so I don’t know how deep the book gets into it, but religion is clearly a big theme in the early pages. Perhaps ironically (perhaps not) I think sectors of the environmental movement share some of these themes.

That said, I’m not a Californian nor religious, so to answer bothers’ question: as an American, no, this vision of the country does not ring true for me at all. But a certain breathless vision of permanent collapse is definitely part of the American vision/conversation in some broad sense.
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 05:13 PM
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SA and then WHAT I LIKE — Past the halfway point

 
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynamoinen View Post
But a certain breathless vision of permanent collapse is definitely part of the American vision/conversation in some broad sense.
Interesting, thanks! Definitely a framing I'll be mulling over as I go through it. The religion theme does continue - I looked up some spoilers and it becomes more important as the story progresses, though it's not really something I have any familiarity with. I do wonder how much of the religious background of the author is coming through (Wikipedia tells me that Butler was raised Baptist, like Lauren) in the story, I guess are going to be some nuances there that I don't have access to. I don't think I'd have been able to make the environmentalist connection for myself, for example!

The novel is written in the form of diary entries, btw, which will explain the notebook designs in the graphic novel adaptation. She's writing a diary and a religious/cult manifesto in her journal as she goes along - a lot of the chapters open with her musings on the nature of God and this nascent cult that she comes to refer to as Earthseed (I don't think this is spoilery as it all gets established early on).
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Old Aug 9th, 2022, 05:33 PM
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Wynamoinen …I agree it feels American and the climate change stuff is prescient and smart and way ahead of its time.

We need something HILARIOUS for next month. Whimsical. Light. Bring on the FUNNY vampires or a space ship who is willing to do a prat fall… Any suggestions?
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