Captivating Conversations: A book review

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Conversations Cover Conversations with Octavia Butler (Literary Conversations Series)

Conseula Francis (Editor),
2010, University Press of Mississippi
288 pages, 6 x 9 inches
978-1-60473-276-4 Paperback $22.00

Review from Expanded Horizons, Issue 26.

Although much has been written about the legendary writer Octavia Butler (1947-2006), there have been no nonfiction compilations of media about this trailblazing Black woman science-fiction writer — until now. In Conversations with Octavia Butler, Conseula Francis, an associate professor of English and director of African American studies at the College of Charleston, has compiled a varied set of twenty-three interviews. Because I collect Butler-related writings and other media, I didn’t expect to find much new information in this compilation. Indeed, a few of the interviews were quite familiar to me because I have worked to publicize them. Yet, this book took me by surprise. Two days after opening the paperback edition, I was startled to find that I had read Conversations virtually cover-to-cover.

Some of the interviews were conducted for print publications (popular and scholarly), while others are transcripts of radio interviews (such as interviews that aired on NPR). While a few of the interviews are currently available online, it was quite exciting to read the first twelve interviews, which span the years from 1980 to 1998, because most of these are not freely available. Readers of her later books will also enjoy the eleven interviews from the year 2000 to 2006. The majority of the interviews are short, under ten pages, but a few are meatier at twenty pages or longer. The format of the interviews also varies, as most were written in the typical transcript style, but a handful were written as essays. Others are not one-on-one interviews at all; rather, they are write-ups of panel discussions. Regardless of the format, readers of Conversations, whether they are new to Octavia Butler’s work and longtime fans, will find themselves captivated by the topics discussed in the interviews.

To read the rest of this review, go to http://ExpandedHorizons.net. The review is located at http://expandedhorizons.net/magazine/?page_id=2115 .

Conversations Cover

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