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Ooh, the lovely dangers of bookstores. I stopped into a Room of One’s Own in downtown Madison – in new digs! -(operating since 1975, with a “strong children’s and young adult, women’s studies and LGBT fiction and nonfiction sections” as described on their website) and picked up a couple new books. Yes, I seriously restrained myself and bought only two books, and stationary. But nothing else. This time.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanaganis a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?” (description from Room’s website).

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan is “a collection of three jaw-dropping stories: THE RED TREE, THE LOST THING, and THE RABBITS, by New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Shaun Tan.
A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world. A boy leads a strange, lost creature home. And a group of peaceful creatures loses their home to cruel invaders. Three stories, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, about how we lose and find what matters most to us.” (description from Room’s website).

And look at these other great titles and drawings by Tan:

And I finished Parable of the Sower last night (this morning, technically). I stayed up late, way past by bed time to finish. It’s Octavia Butler, what can I say? It was great: conceptually brilliant, well-written, engaging, characters of color and mixed race characters and couples all in a socially and politically relevant setting. (How could I have forgot to mention strong female characters in my first draft? They’re there too. And I don’t just mean “strong” as in physically strong or capable to do what the character wants to do – though Lauren Olamina (MC) is certainly physically capable – I also mean emotionally and mentally strong. Strong-willed. Mature. Responsible. Intelligent. Creative. Lauren is all these things. Female characters have agency in Butler’s novel.) This is spec fic at its finest. She was a master.

From BHP – Black History Pages – website : Every story I write adds to me a little, changes me a little, forces me to reexamine an attitude or belief, causes me to research and learn, helps me to understand people and grow…Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.  —Octavia E. Butler

(check out the great links at the bottom of the BHP page about Ms. Butler: Nalo Hopkinsons’ essay: Dark Ink about writers of color writing speculative fiction, interview with Ms. Butler at Locus Magazine about persistence, and more!)
I thank all that is good that our world was graced with Ms. Butler and is still being bettered by her through her writing. She inspires me, her writing and her history challenge me to be strong, to be true to myself, to reexamine my own attitudes and beliefs. That is what inspirational people do – challenge you to be yourself. Maybe one of the hardest things to do in a culture like ours. Maybe one of the more necessary.

(Note: edited on October 10, 2012, with new content.)