Dolly Parton and Octavia Butler

Breaking news: Dolly Parton likes Octavia Butler! In her recent interview with the New York Times, when asked about her favorite book she responded: “Not enough folks know what a great book ‘Kindred,’ by Octavia E. Butler, is. It’s kind of tricky to describe but somehow it all works — it’s about race relations and there’s time travel and romance. It’s powerful.” So, there you have it folks. The queen of country music is a fan of Octavia Butler. Suddenly this class’s focus on Butler’s body of work makes sense. (Just kidding, I promise it made sense before too.)

Dolly Parton had been in the news a lot recently. She just released a new Christmas album, “A Holly Dolly Christmas,” and made it into a TV special. More impressively, she apparently donated a million dollars to Moderna, the company that just announced a 94% effective coronavirus vaccine. So, in addition to reading good literature and spreading Christmas cheer, Dolly Parton is also saving lives and ending the pandemic. 

In class last week we talked about how Butler’s characters are often uniquely good people in corrupt and uncomfortable situations. Whether Butler’s protagonists are chosen by God or hugged by aliens, they usually try to do their best to help other, even if it means sacrificing their own well-being. Maybe Dolly Parton is a real-life Butler protagonist in our almost-post-apocalyptic world. It’s likely that she was a good person before she read Kindred, but, who knows, maybe it was Speech Sounds that convinced her to do something about the pandemic. Either way, I think I’ll be spending my Christmas break reading Kindred and patiently awaiting the Dolly Parton funded vaccine.

Also, I’m just realizing now that I already have seven blogposts, but I’m posting this anyway out of love for Dolly Parton. And for anyone who’s interested, here’s Dolly’s interview that I mentioned:


5 thoughts on “Dolly Parton and Octavia Butler”

  1. Amen to Loving Dolly Parton. I’m not a big country fan, but I like her stuff.
    To get back to the matter at hand, I agree with your analysis about Dolly being a Butler protagonist, especially looking at the corruption of the studio in her early career and later career. It is interesting that even though Butler tends to have a more cynical view of the world, she is looking and examining inherently good characters. I wonder if that means she thinks that humanity is inherently good or evil? Is it nuture or nature?

  2. Wow, drawing connections across unexpected areas! This was really fun to read about. Personally, I don’t listen to any Dolly Parton music–I couldn’t name a single song of hers, but I think it is really cool that you were able to find a connection from her to, not only class, but the larger world issues that we have been able to see our readings connect to. You wove a full circle, entangled web!

  3. It’s cool to learn all these things I didn’t know about Dolly Parton. I liked your comparison of Parton to a Butler protagonist as well… I can totally see it haha… You did a great job connecting all sorts of things here

  4. WE STAN DOLLY PARTON. Having never heard of Octavia Butler before this class, I am glad to hear that she isn’t completely forgotten by influencers and the world. I found Butler’s work to be intense, intriguing, and thought-provoking. I’m sure if we did some digging into Dolly Parton’s life, we would see similarities that go even deeper than what you’ve already found. Thank you for giving me another reason to love Dolly Parton.

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