Monday, November 16 at 7PM
A HANDFUL OF EARTH,
A HANDFUL OF SKY
by LYNELL GEORGE
in conversation with JUDITH LEWIS
A blueprint for a creative life from the perspective of award-winning science-fiction writer and "MacArthur Genius" Octavia E. Butler.
It is a collection of ideas about how to look, listen, breathe--how to be in the world. This book is about the creative process, but not on the page; its canvas is much larger. Author Lynell George not only engages the world that shaped Octavia E. Butler, she also explores the very specific processes through which Butler shaped herself--her unique process of self-making. It's about creating a life with what little you have--hand-me-down books, repurposed diaries, journals, stealing time to write in the middle of the night, making a small check stretch--bit by bit by bit. Highly visual and packed with photographs of Butler's ephemera, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky draws the reader into Butler's world, creating a sense of unmatched intimacy with the deeply private writer.
There's a great resurgence of interest in Butler's work. Readers have been turning to her writing to make sense of contemporary chaos, to find a plot point that might bring clarity or calm. Her books have become the centerpiece of book-group discussions, while universities and entire cities have chosen her titles to anchor "Big Read," "Freshman Read," and "One Book/One City" programs. The interest has gone beyond the printed page; Ava DuVernay is adapting Butler's novel Dawn for television. A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky brings Octavia's prescient wisdom and careful thinking out of the novel and into the world.
A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky will be beloved by both scholars and fans of Butler, as well as aspiring writers and creatives who are looking for a model or a spark of inspiration. It offers a visual album of a creative life--a map that others can follow. Butler once wrote that science fiction was simply "a handful of earth, a handful of sky, and everything in between." This book offers a slice of the in between.
Lynell George is a journalist and essayist. After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame was her first book of essays and photography, exploring the city where she grew up. As a staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, she focused on social issues, human behavior, visual arts, music, and literature. She taught journalism at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, in 2013 was named a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and in 2017 received the Huntington Library’s Alan Jutzi Fellowship for her studies of California writer Octavia E. Butler. A contributing arts-and-culture columnist for KCET | Artbound, her commentary has also been featured in numerous news and feature outlets including Boom: A Journal of California, Smithsonian, KPCC The Frame, Los Angeles Review of Books, Vibe, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Essence, Black Clock, and Ms. Her liner notes for Otis Redding Live at the Whisky a Go Goearned a 2018 GRAMMY award.
in conversation with
Judith Lewis Mernit has been reporting on environment, energy, politics and social justice since 2003, with a focus on solutions to the climate crisis. She has written major features on nuclear energy for Mother Jones and High Country News, on California’s oil industry for Sierra Magazine and KCET, and on reducing methane emissions from dairy farms for Yale e360. At High Country News she pioneered coverage of conflicts between desert conservationists and the siting of large solar farms, and wrote for Audubon magazine about how to balance biodiversity and renewable energy development in the deserts of the Southwestern U.S. In 2018, she was a recipient of the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism Impact Grant, and wrote a series of stories about harm reduction for people who inject drugs in rural northern California. She has won four first-place awards from the Southern California Journalism Association, including one for her Capital & Main coverage of clean water justice in the town of Allensworth, California. She is a contributing editor at Capital & Main, and currently writes a column about the nexus between climate and politics, The Heat: 2020.