Wednesday, November 01, 2006

RfP Wednesday -- The Parable of the Sower

I've missed two Reading for Pleasure Wednesdays in a row. Not that I haven't read anything, but I haven't really had much time to post, and haven't had anything really great to write about. But I'm going to get back to it.

I'm currently re-reading The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I think this is the third time I've read it, but it might be the fourth. Like most of Butler's novels, it is kind of difficult to read. A lot of really bad stuff happens to the main character, and to her friends and family. But, like most of Butler's novels, it carries with it a hint of inspiration. Lauren survivies, in spite of all the terrible things. This is a very strong theme with Butler. Her character's persevere in the fact of truly terrible pain, and somehow grow.

This particular novel is set in the near future (the 2020's), in an America on the decline. Crime is rampant. Most people live in walled communities, and go out only in well-armed, large groups. The economy is stagnant. If people can find work at all, they can barely afford basics. Nobody has money for luxuries like TV's, microwaves, or even phone service. The police and firefighters charge per call, so they are rarely called, even for major emergencies. People regularly disappear, and are just never heard from again.

And that's at the beginning of the novel. It gets worse. It's somewhat comforting to read it, and to realize that things aren't that bad in America. But I have a terrible fear that they may become that bad, perhaps in my lifetime. Perhaps within 20 years.

I'm not sure why I'm reading it again. It isn't my favorite of Butler's novels. But I'm far enough into it now that I can't stop. I'll press ahead, and probably read the sequel, The Parable of the Talents, as well.