Monday, August 3, 2009

Mo' Mondays, Mo' Problems

I want to apologize to both of my readers for my unscheduled hiatus. (You may cease your weeping and gnashing of teeth.) Sometimes, work gets in the way of writing about Langston Hughes and The Onion headlines.

(What? I haven’t written 'bout Onion headlines yet? I need to fix that.)

But I’m back and writing about a topic I’ve beaten to death — zombies.
(OK, technically I’ve beaten the topic to undeath. No more parentheses — back to work.)

After my 9-part dissection of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, most of my two readers assumed I was a zombies fan. They would ask me how I felt about zombie flicks. (I love Evil Dead II. I haven’t seen any others.) They’d also suggest other zombie books, including World War Z.

Loaned to me by our intern, Erich Hiner, World War Z reads more like a war memoir than a zombie romp. That’s the best part of Z. It takes itself completely seriously.

The author, Max Brooks, researched the militaries, governments and even the topography of several countries around the world and has written what he considers a likely outcome should the living dead attack.

He writes about Chinese suppression, media distortion, American overconfidence and Russian decimation. It’s clever and seems plausible — y’know, as plausible as anything involving zombies.

The only problem is Brooks does not give you any characters with whom to identify. He chooses to tell the story from a macro-perspective, interviewing survivors from all around the world. He, then, strings their vignettes together.

The jaded American, the Russian loyalist, the Chinese doctor, the profiteer who made a fortune on a zombie “vaccine” — all of them are individually interesting, but none of them are gripping. Consequently, my interest waxed and waned with each section.

My favorite character was Tomonaga Ijiro, a Japanese man who was blinded by an atomic bomb. During the war, he lived Spartanly in a forest and trained followers on the most efficient way to dispatch a zombie. Meanwhile, the country abandons Ijiro by evacuating the islands.

Ijiro’s story garners sympathy and respect. Few of the protagonists inspired an emotional response. I liked the book, but I never cared about the book.

So if you’re a zombie fan — and apparently some of the two of you are — Z is worth a read. If you’re fascinated by the art of war and don’t mind dabbling in the ridiculous, you’ll love it.

If you’re wondering when I’ll stop writing about zombies, the answer is “now.”

-Jason Lea,

P.S. For Harold, I put now in quotation marks because I considered it a quote. As per the following dialogue:

Q. Jason, when will you stop writing about zombies?

A. Now.

The quotes were probably unnecessary. Maybe it would have been better to italicize.

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Blogger Harold said...

I'm just curious why you put that last now in quotation marks.

August 3, 2009 at 3:00 PM 

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