Monday, July 19, 2010

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Copyright 1979
Beacon Press - Fiction/Time Travel
264 pages
25th Anniversary Edition, published 2004, contains a reader's guide

Dana is loading the bookshelves in her new house when she becomes dizzy and suddenly finds herself by a river in a forest. She saves a boy from drowning, is frightened by a man aiming a gun at her and then reappears in her home, wet and shaken. But, it's not until she finds herself pulled out of her own home a second time that she realizes she's being called back in time to save her ancestor. And, only fear will take her home.

Being called back to the time of slavery whenever her ancestor, Rufus, is in trouble is bad enough. Each time years pass and Rufus is older. But, each time she also ends up staying longer. And then her husband is pulled back in time with her. Dana is black and Rufus is a white slave owner. Dana's husband, Kevin, is white. But, he's a stranger to the Maryland plantation where Dana must stay and there's only so much he can do to help her.

Dana's appearances in pre-Civil War Maryland become more terrifying and dangerous the longer she stays and the more time goes by. Because each time she's called back, Rufus has become a little more like his cruel, slave-beating father. She can't kill Rufus or let him die, no matter what he does to her, because she will cease to exist. Instead, she must keep saving a man who deserves to die and watch out for herself as much as possible until Rufus becomes father to the child Dana knows will continue the family line.

Published in 1979 and still relevant -- a book that really makes you think. Not perfect because there were some times the wording pulled me out for a moment and occasionally I thought Dana got away with more than I could fathom a black woman getting away with in the time of slavery, but that's just my opinion. Highly, highly recommended.

Bottom line: Excellent writing and a rocking fine central dilemma make this an amazing and timeless read. I think this book would be a great book club read. There's a lot to ponder and discuss.

In other news:

Only one book has arrived here in the last week or two: Goodbye Darkness by William Manchester (from PBS). Otherwise, nada. I even went to Borders and came out empty-handed, although that's partly their fault for not bothering to send me the weekly coupon. They should know I'm a sucker for coupons, by now. It's all in their computer.

Jeane of DogEar Diary asked me if I have any more photos of the fox I snapped in Colorado and asked to see more. I do. But, I figured I might as well have a little fun and went dashing off to look at more possibilities for photo effects (something I've spent a lot of time playing with, this week). In the process, I found PhotoFunia -- a wonderful free photo-effect website -- and opted to turn one of my favorite fox photos into a colored sketch. It was a little too subtle for me, so I saved it and added some shadow to give it a little more punch. I love the end result, which looks like it was torn out of an old book:

I'm still reading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis but hope to finish that, today, and then return to the books in my sidebar. Not much else is going on! I really do need to clean house, but the city pool had a broken pump, yesterday, so Kiddo has continued to hang out with me and we're having fun. Well, okay, we're having fun when he's awake. Boy, that kid likes to sleep.

What are you reading, these days?

Bookfool, too busy to moan about not being in Australia

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I read Kindred a few years ago in my pre-blogging days and loved it, too. Just picked up a copy of Doomsday Book at a used book sale, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  2. Megan,

    Kindred is awesome, isn't it? I will definitely read more by Octavia Butler. Funny that you just got a copy of Doomsday Book! I'm enjoying it immensely. It's a little slow at times, but I'm dying to know what will happen. Can't seem to talk myself into reading anything else, again.

  3. I haven't read a single thing by Octavia Butler, but this premise is stunning! I can't wait to give it a try.

  4. I am slowly working on A Climate for Change. I am finding it interesting. I'll let you know when I finish it.

  5. I haven't read this, but for some reason reading your post made me think of The Time Traveler's Wife (time travel, literary sci-fi, husband and wife).

    And, ooh, Doomsday! I haven't read that one, but I've liked other stuff by Willis that I've read. I keep meaning to read more of her books and then never get around to it.

  6. Andi,

    It's really thought-provoking. I think you'd like it. I'll definitely be looking for more books by Butler.


    Yay! I'm always happy to hear that anyone is reading A Climate for Change! Follow it up with Field Notes from a Catastrophe and you'll think the end of the world is coming. LOL

    Library Girl,

    The similarity pretty much ends up with the words husband, wife and time travel, but if you like time travel, I think this one is excellent. It's as much about the social issues (slavery, cruelty, beatings and rape) as it is about traveling in time.

    I can't believe I've been playing on the computer all day when I need to be reading Doomsday. Thanks for the reminder. It is soooo good. I need more Willis books. Bellwether was great, too.

  7. I love the sketchy thought! When I first saw it I thought: did she find that in an old book? I can't wait to see more of your beautiful photos.

  8. Jeane,

    Isn't that cool? I adore that sketch effect so much that I sat around turning photos into sketches, most of the morning. I framed one of my youngest son, already; it's hanging right over my desk.

    Thank you! There will be more photos to come. :)

  9. This one's on my shelf and I'm very much looking forward to it!

  10. Amanda,

    I hope you enjoy it! I'm so glad I happened across a copy.

  11. Great review! I read this book a few years ago and really liked. It's one of the better time-travel books. Speaking of which, have you read "Replay"?

  12. Janna,

    Thank you! I agree -- one of the better time travel books I've read. No, I haven't read Replay!!! It's been on my wish list for about 3 years but I haven't managed to get a copy.

  13. Oh this sounds so good. I've read one of Butler's books before and it also left me thinking about it and wishing I'd read it with a book group to discuss. I like that.

    I just started a new book last night and it's just what I needed as my last couple of mysteries haven't been very exciting.

  14. Iliana,

    Yay, that bodes well for future reads by Butler. I love books that make you think and ask questions.

    I'll have to drop by your blog to see what you're reading. I just added yet another book to my reading, after finishing Doomsday Book. I think I'm on the verge of ditching two of the books in my sidebar. We shall see. Glad you found something that's grabbing you!

  15. Great review! Interesting book, let me check this out...


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