Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Tag: Books

What I’m Reading Right Now: Lilith’s Brood

liliths-brood-butlerIf Octavia Butler hadn’t died, I might not have heard about her. I know, that sounds a tad awful, but when this visionary writer passed away, a lot of my friends in graduate school were really bummed out. I didn’t know who she was and my classmates were a bit disappointed and astonished and sent me to read some of her work right away. I read, devoured rather, The Parable of the Sower and then The Parable of the Talents.  They were amazing works and I meant to read more of Butler’s writing, but graduate school dictated a lot of what I was reading around that time and it wasn’t until I saw Lilith’s Brood on my Amazon.com wish list that I was reminded to delve back into Butler’s fine prose.

Lilith’s Brood is a series of three books:  Dawn, Adulthood, and Imago.  It takes place in a time when humanity has almost destroyed itself and an alien race makes contact with Earth to save what aspects of our culture can be salvaged.  I’ve read many post apocalyptic stories but the tenacity of spirit, strength and hope have never been as well represented here.  The small triumphs are made even more sweet by the backdrop of humanity’s fall.   Yes, there’s something biblical to be read into the narrative if that’s what you’re looking for.  This is a story about mankind’s fall from grace and since this book begins and ends with Lilith’s story, her name conjures up the story of Adam’s first wife (who is reputed by some accounts to be the mother of demons).   I’ve never read a book in which the aliens feels as truly “other” as the Ooankali feel to me in this trilogy.  My notions of culture, gender and genetics were tested and expanded in this concise narrative about individual and community identity.

Here’s a taste of Butler’s masterful prose:

“The splash of icy-sweet pleasure, when it reached him, won him completely.  This was the half-remembered feeling he had come back for.  This was the way it began.

Before the long-awaited rush of sensation swallowed him completely, he saw Lilith lie down alongside the ooloi, saw the second sensory arm loop around her neck.  He tried to reach out to her across the body of the ooloi, to touch her, touch the warm Human flesh.  It seemed to him that he reached and reached, yet she remained too far away to touch.

He though he shouted as the sensation deepened, as it took him.  It seemed that she was with him suddenly, her body against his own.  He thought he said her name and repeated it, but he could not hear the sound of his own voice.”

You’ll have to read the book to understand what an ooloi is, and what exactly is going on in this passage, but it’s worth it, dear reader.  This trilogy is a masterpiece in the scope of its imagination and elegance.  Science fiction, or fiction in general for that matter, would be all the poorer without it.  Octavia Butler may have left this realm, but her amazing worlds remain for us to explore.  Her written legacy is a testament to her innovative mind and profound spirit.

What I’m Reading Right Now: The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like Tom Spanbauer‘s The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. Or perhaps everything I’ve read before has led me to this book. It’s hard to say. What I’m sure of is that I want to read it all over again. Which is strange since I tend to read a book and then hungrily devour the next book in my “to read” pile. It’s also kind of funny since I picked this book up twice, read the first page and then put it back down again.

Everyone I know who has seen the copy in my possession has raved about how great it is, but they never gave me any specifics as to why they loved it. My copy was a present from a very good friend who had the great fortune to stay at the author’s home. My friend brought me back a signed copy and lauded the book’s virtues. So, when I needed a book to take with me on the plane to a Radical Faerie Gathering I snatched it up, hoping that this time I would get past the first page. I hoped that I would find some spiritual resonance with the novel once I left the mundane world for faeriedom. I don’t always need a book to pluck my spirit strings, but it’s great when they do.

Well, thanks to the conversational antics of a delightfully silly fey named Hysterica, I didn’t get any reading done on the plane to the Gathering. And no, I didn’t have a chance to read while I was camping in the woods and manifesting Beltane intentions either (No surprise there). And no, I won’t be spilling the dirt on Rad Feys and what they are and what they do and what the heck is a gathering because, 1.) that would be a whole post in and of itself and 2.) some things are best left unexplained and 3.) I don’t speak for they Faes as we have no leaders and 4.) I don’t want to right now anyway.

On the plane ride back to San Francisco (Which I almost missed due to some very important doll shopping at an antique mall which seemed like a good idea at the time) I was seated between a married couple (We’ll call them Nancy and Greg, since that is their names). I asked them why I was seated in between them and Nancy told me that she enjoys the window seat and her husband liked the aisle seat. So, I got the middle. Nancy was very friendly and we chatted about all sorts of things. Her husband was quick to put his headphones on once he realized how very very queer our conversation was going to be. And, bless her heart, poor Nancy became so inundated with my chatter that she had to stare helplessly at the passing clouds until I realized that she probably needed some alone time.

I grabbed my book and started in on that oh so familiar first page. I read it and turned the page. I kept going. I didn’t stop until the effect of drinking three cans of water made me jump across Greg to go to the restroom (That’s what you get for sitting in the aisle seat, buddy). I was hooked on The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon.

I didn’t get to finish the book on that flight and I didn’t get to read it later that night after my friend Rio and I arrived in Oakland. Both of us came down with bad colds and I ended up sleeping a lot. I’m still suffering from some major sinus pressure so I hope this review will make some sense when I’m better. If not, I hope the tangential digressions are at least fun for you, dear reader.

Last night, I was so sick of being sick and really sick of sleeping and I picked the book up again. I read it all the way through with only minimal stops to the restroom. I was driven to finish the narrative so engaged I was with the characters, situations, settings and themes. Every chapter cracked my brain and heart and spirit open in ways I didn’t and couldn’t have expected. This book is real, folks. It’s the hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell, it’s tragedy and comedy, it’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it’s its own thing.

I think the reason I wasn’t able to get into it before was due to the intense power of the narrator’s voice, the unfamiliar language that immediately washed over me, and the back and forth timeline of events. You have to pay attention when you step into this world. You cannot remain a passive reader. Spanbauer tells a great story but he’s doing more than that. He’s creating something completely new in regards to how we consider story, myth and that elusive beast we call history. Most importantly, he’s weaving a spell.

What’s this spell about? Well, I’m not going to spoil the plot. I’m certainly not going to reiterate the book jacket blurbs for you. You know how to look that stuff up on Amazon. I will tell you that the magic of this book revolves around how we tell ourselves stories, how we create our lives and and what it means to be your self, regardless of who you think you are and where you think you might be from. It’s about family. It’s about truth. It’s about forgiveness, trust, and love. It’s about healing and much, much more.

Do yourself a favor and check out Tom Spanbauer’s The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. I guarantee you’ll learn a few new things about yourself, your loved ones and the world you live in.

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