Back Octavia E. Butler: “I could become a writer, or I could die really young”

“I write about people and the different ways of being human. And you can’t really do that unless you write about a lot of different kinds of people.”

“One of the things I tell people who are reading my work critically is that what they bring to it is at least as important to them as what I put into it. And that’s true.”

“Do I want to say something central about race, aside from, Hey, we’re here?”

Those are just some of the quotable moments from Octavia E. Butler’s June 2000 appearance on Charlie Rose, which we’ve embedded above. Running just under a quarter of an hour, but ranging over everything from the United States space program and the philosophy of Hegel to the reasons why people like to start arguments on science fiction panels, the segment is an engaging way to learn more about the fiction writer who most recently joined the Library of America series.

For those who have already enjoyed the new LOA collection Octavia E. Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories, the video is a chance to reacquaint themselves with what Jenny Turner, writing recently in the London Review of Books, characterized as “the voice of Butler’s few but marvellous essays: laidback but crisp and clear, the voice of a self-confessed ‘news junkie’ and far-sighted African American intellectual.” (Five of those essays are included in the LOA Butler volume.)

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