Remembrance (REupdated)

Karen Joy Fowler remembers Octavia Butler for Salon:

The last two stories I read by Octavia E. Butler prior to her death in February, at the age of 58, were "The Book of Martha" and "Amnesty." Both were published in 2003, and both are available in the archives. Neither, in my opinion, is absolutely first-rate Butler; still, they are quintessential as to theme and character. They have their own strengths, and remind you of the pure stuff that made Butler’s work so powerful.

The opening to "The Book of Martha" makes for sad rereading now, though. In it, God tells Martha that she is free for the very first time. Martha seems to be much like a younger Butler — a woman of 43, an African-American and a writer. Her first concern is that she must be dead, and she doesn’t want to be. Her last memories of earth are of writing, the "sweet frenzy of creation that she lived for."

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Updated: Meghan is my hero. I wholeheartedly second her response to the silly thing at Bookslut. NOBODY MESSES WITH KJF, FOOL!

Anyway, one side note: I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with Itzkoff’s list if it had really felt like an honest list of favorites. But it felt very manufactured to me — as I’ve said elsewhere, the inclusion of Looking for Jake seemed like a ringer (which is not to say that Mieville didn’t deserve to be on the list) — and the fact that a critic’s manufactured list serving as a quasi-manifesto about his taste would be so uniformly white and male and narrow is what’s most disturbing to me. Which is not to say I couldn’t be wrong — perhaps these really are the books he loves best, in which case, we’re back to Meghan’s point that a critic is accountable for examining and understanding his own taste, especially when it turns out to be so narrow and unrepresentative.

I thought Karen was actually way more GENEROUS than most of us to Itzkoff in her remarks. Also, I love the implication that Itzkoff has such a huge readership — his readership are people buying the paper, and except for his mom and Michael Schaub, not buying it for him. When someone reads Karen, they’re doing it ON PURPOSE. Okay, must stop now. Go read Meghan.

See also: Dave Marusek’s bemused response to the reactions Itzkoff’s column touched off.

p.p.s. The irony that we’re now talking about Itzkoff again when Karen was writing about Octavia Butler is not lost on Hemingway the Cat, LLC, or George Rowe the Dog, My Attorney. They keep looking at me and shaking their heads. You will never learn, they say.

And: Schwartz(ie) enters the good fray. But good too.

7 thoughts on “Remembrance (REupdated)”

  1. Huh. Pathetic bleating at Bookslut. That’s breaking exciting new content ground for them, eh?

  2. Oh come on Christopher that’s not fair! I thought you guys all liked me and even if you don’t always agree with Michael or Jessa you have to give them credit for some good stuff, right? I mean Jessa has been screaming to high heavens about the Virginia Quarterly Review for a year and now even the National Magazine Award folks are getting on the bandwagon.
    I’d probably still be writing sad stories in my basement if it wasn’t for Bookslut; I just agree to disagree on some stuff and keep writing my reviews!
    And I do love all you guys…

  3. I read the Schaub post and thought its reasoning so poorly thought out and its “hidden agenda” so blatant that I just ignored it. Didn’t see how anyone could give it any kind of credence whatsoever. I figured you folks were smart cookies and you’d do the same.
    Then I read Meghan’s post and my suspicions were confirmed: you folks are smart cookies.

  4. That’s hilarious, Colleen, because when Christopher posted that I said, “But we love Colleen!” and he said, “Well, of course!”
    Honestly, other than your stuff, I rarely read Bookslut. But you are clearly awesome.
    Ed: I think KJF is just our weakness — we can’t not respond at all. It’s KAREN!!! She’s THE BEST!!!

  5. I gotta say, I actually like bookslut, and Schaub’s stuff has made me laugh. But yeah, it’s the KJF factor. As well as my deep and instinctive need to shoot my mouth off on the internet. I have anger. I try to use it for good, or at least good writers.

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