BOOK & BLOG
October 24, 2011
I was very excited to get my copy of Zone One. Colson Whitehead’s book has gotten reviewed in many major publications, and he’s gotten blurbs from people and entities who make my eyes go wide – John Updike, anyone? Justin Cronin? Esquire? The known literary universe?
And it’s a zombie novel.
This may be the most literary zombie novel you’ll ever read. The hero, a young suburban sardonically called “Mark Spitz,” has survived horror after horror only to end up on a three-person cleanup team. They’ve been given the job of checking apartment and office buildings in Manhattan to make sure the army has cleared out all the undead. There are two kinds of zombies: the ones who move and the ones who go to a spot with special significance to them and wait . . . and wait.
Mark Spitz himself is not wholly likeable. He’s not a hero in the classic sense, but as he himself decides, he’s a great survivor by virtue of his own mediocrity. The book is not a chronological narrative. Mark Spitz’s reflections and recollections veer back and forth between the grim but tolerable present and the terrifying past.
I still don’t know what I thought of this book. I recognize the excellence of Whitehead’s writing and the complexity of it, and those are attributes I truly admire.
My friendly acquaintance Jonathan Maberry, on the other hand, has written a more accessible young adult zombie novel, Dust and Decay. If you enjoyed its predecessor, Rot and Ruin, you won’t want to miss this one, a continuation of the story of Tom Imura, his brother Benny, Benny’s true love Nix, and the feral girl Lilah – along with Lou Chong, who’s only supposed to accompany them for an overnight camp – set out to find the origin of the jet that passed overhead in the previous book, a shocking sight to a society that’s reverted to pre-technology status.
Maberry doesn’t just write a breathless action narrative, he’s very aware of the interior lives of his characters. His people aren’t shallow. They’re complicated, they’re molded by the terrible world around them, and they’re unforgettable.
This is what the two seemingly disparate books have in common.
P.S. By the way, Maberry’s adult zombie novel, Dead of Night, will be on the shelves October 25. I got to read it early, and it’s really suspenseful.
This will be an odds and ends kind of blog. I also have to blog on the Femmes Fatales website on Wednesday, and I’m already having trouble trying to imagine what I’ll write about for the Femmes.
My rant and rave for the week: I just got my copy of SOUTHERN LIVING, a great magazine, and in an article about excellent barbecue restaurants in Arkansas, they omitted the best one of all – Backyard BBQ in Magnolia, AR. Admittedly, there’s a lot of good barbecue in Arkansas, but Backyard BBQ is the best. I’m going to have to send an email, which I’ve rephrased mentally several times. I want the right combination of indignation and gentle admonishment.
Sports conflict: my husband is a die-hard, long-time, Cardinals fan. My son’s light of love is a Rangers woman. I try to look at it optimistically. Someone I know will be happy, no matter who wins.
Pet peeve: people who find it surprising that I’m a church-goer. Why? All thinking people have some strong opinion about religion and faith. Do they think because I write about vampires I’m anti-Christian? Or do think it’s impossible to write about vampires if you are a Christian?
If you believe that, you’d have to believe all romance writers are adventuresome women who have incredibly hot sex with incredibly hot men, many times a day. Their hotness for each other transcends the tedium of bill-paying, child-rearing, and job-hunting. (Actually, that sounds pretty good. Maybe I’ll turn to the romance field!)
Writers are NOT the things they write about.
Am I being confusing or over-sensitive? Maybe. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder because I asked myself several times when I began Sookie’s adventures if I were doing the right thing. After the first few letters telling me that I’d helped the writers through hard times in their lives, I felt okay about myself and what I was doing.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris