Many talented and interesting writers contribute to this blog. Everyone has her own interests, her own tastes, and yet, looking through the past few posts, I've noticed one particular topic mentioned several times. One shambling, moaning, brain-hungry, undead topic.
I'm sensing a theme…and I like it.
I'm referring of course to zombies.
Those poor, neglected underdogs of the horror genre maintain a residence in that one, small soft spot in I have left in my heart, right between my love of avgolemono soup and my adoration of Alan Alda. The fact that I likely need therapy aside, it is my fervent belief that zombies symbolize many of the ideological power struggles that exist within our society. That’s why they’re so popular and why they’ve maintained their popularity, more or less, for nearly a century. Though often unable to do much more than moan (and eat brains), zombies speak to us. You can trust me on that one, I’m an expert ;)
Ok, ok, before someone calls in a reservation for me in a small rubber room, let me clarify that last statement. From a purely academic standpoint, my expertise is Zombieology. Yes, I totally made that word up. But what else do you call the study of zombies? And that’s what I did, a full year of my life devoted to the intensive study of zombies, the zombie mythos, and zombie lore. My Masters thesis was, you guessed it, on zombies. I’ll spare you all a lecture on the many and varied ways in which zombies can be used to both subvert and reaffirm dominant gendered ideologies (it sounds so pretentious!). Instead, I would like to propose an alternative reading experience that is, unlike my thesis*, enjoyable.
From Barnes & Noble: "The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years."
I am on a one woman mission to get everyone to read this novel. World War Z is more than a book, it is an experience. Written by Max Brooks (son of funnyman Mel Brooks), World War Z was released after Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide. While the Survival Guide is a parody, WWZ is not. It is a story that reads like a history of the world. It is frightening and gripping and heartbreaking and uplifting and more adjectives than I can string together in a coherent sentence. When describing it to friends who are turned off by the whole “ridiculous” zombie plot of the book, I tell them that if Brooks had replaced zombies with a pandemic virus that has the power to ravage the world’s population, the storyline is completely plausible. That’s what makes it so chilling, and so fabulous. By looking back at a zombie epidemic already passed, the narrator captures the very best and worst of human nature as what’s left of the human race struggles not just to survive, but to start over after facing a self-sustaining plague fueled by the infected members of our own population. For a fantastic, engrossing read that proves zombies can be so much more than just a cheap horror icon, World War Z is top notch.
What's your opinion of zombies? Have you read World War Z? Share your opinion of the undead.
*Please note, anyone having insomnia issues is more than welcome to peruse the 139 pages of intellectual claptrap that is my thesis. WARNING: zombieism may result.