Wild Seed Excerpt
Un-huh. I know I’m supposed to be finishing Black Boy, but I have all weekend to do that. In the meantime I’ve completed 3 short stories. It’s been interesting because I’m not stranded with one author (and their entourage of characters) for 300+ pages. With short stories, in just 10 or more quick pages, I can analyze and compare an author’s writing style to my own and keep it moving. In reading these 3 short stories, I recognize that I don’t have to second guess my own writing style. I always question the lack of detail in my descriptions. My strength is dialogue. When my characters talk, I can hear their conversations. But then other times when I write I see the characters and setting in my head, but of course it doesn’t come out as instantly on the page. In reading the fiction of others, I am fueling my own tank.
As far as short stories go, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Breaking Ice edited by Terry McMillan and Gumbo edited by Marita Golden and E. Lynn Harris. I have a couple of other anthologies that I used in college, but…yeah…I browse through those with a specific purpose in mind–moreso for thoughtful reading as opposed to entertainment/pleasure.
Flipping through the book, I decided on an excerpt from Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed. During my book group days, I had the opportunity to read Kindred. Amazon summarizes this book in a couple of noted sentences. “As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, “See how easily slaves are made?” For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life, and nurture victimization is to choose to survive.” While I respect Butler for her writing skills, the story was actually a little dull from what I remember. I know I skimmed and skipped a few pages just so I could say I finished it. I enjoyed the characters and ideas that were presented, but the actual story wasn’t that interesting. I’ve done some research online and found that from Butler’s published collection Kindred tends to be a favorite for many. Go figure.
Wild Seed (excerpt) by Octavia Butler
Publisher’s Description: He could not die. Doro was a mind force who changed bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex — or design. He roamed Earth, gathering the genetic Wild Seed: the tormented, mad thought-readers, seers, and witches. Some he helped. Some he destroyed. But Doro bred, ruled, owned them all. He feared no one — until he met Anyanwu.
She could not be killed. Anyanwu was an old woman, a young woman, a man, a leopard, an eagle, a dolphin — a shapeshifter. She could absorb bullets and make medicine with a kiss. She gave birth to tribes, she nurtured and healed — but Anyanwu would savage any who threatened those she loved. She feared no one — until she met Doro.
Together they were locked in a war of wills. From the African jungles to the colonies of America, Doro and Anyanwu were the father, mother, and gods of an awesome, unborn race. And their love and hate wove a Pattern of destiny that not even immortals could imagine…(Man! What a description!)
First Sentence: Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of his seed villages.
Reason story was selected: The fact that Kindred wasn’t an enjoyable read never stopped me from wanting to read more by Butler. I mean, let’s be real, have you read some of her story descriptions?
The Good: I liked the idea that these two people/beings needed each other, but neither seemed exactly sure why. As described by the female character, Anyanwu, Doro was a spirit. In order to keep himself alive he would have to hunt and kill people in order to take over their bodies. Anyawu, on the other hand, had unbelievable strength, healing powers, and could shape shift. She’d been married 10 times, birthed 47 children, and lived in various places. What really interested me about this story was the fact that I wanted to know what would happen if these two came together to have children. I wanted to figure out how the title Wild Seed related to the things that would take place in the actual novel. But what I enjoyed most about this excerpt was how much strength the female character had. Imagine watching all the people you know and love growing old and dying. Still you have to go on. Imagine people coming after you because they don’t understand your powers and abilities. You kill them first and go on.
The Bad: Since this was only an excerpt, I didn’t get a chance to learn as much as I wanted to about these characters. Again, how did the title relate to the things that would take place in the story?
The Ugly: Well, I guess now I’ll have to read the book. Although one review I found made me second guess the thought.
Favorite Part: He focused his attention on her, and she began to rub her hands. The hands were bird claws, long-fingered, withered, and bony. As he watched they began to fill out, to grow smooth and young looking. Her arms and shoulders began to fill out and her sagging breasts drew themselves up round and high. Her hips grew round beneath her cloth, causing him to want to strip the cloth from her. Lastly, she touched her face and molded away her wrinkles. An old scar beneath one eye vanished. The flesh became smooth and firm, and the woman startingly beautiful.
Finally she stood before him looking not yet twenty. She cleared her throat and spoke to him in a soft, young-woman’s voice. “Is this enough?”
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Check out author Tananarive Due’s website as she remembers Octavia Butler–and forces me to consider readig Kindred again (what did I really miss?).
Who are these people?
…And now back to Black Boy…