Remembering The Zombies

For weeks after reading Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide, I could not help taking time out of hardware store errands to test out crowbars for “swing-ability”. So convincing and practical the handbook proved to be; it couldn’t hurt to be prepared should the infection start.

In his latest book, World War Z, Max Brooks takes a similarly true-to-life approach in a collection of interviews recounting a time when the world approached total annihilation in a zombie war.

Modelling his personal history on Studs Terkel’s The Good War; Brooks goes far beyond the survival horror of the customary seven shopping mall-bound archetypes, to deliver an avalanche of personal stories from every possible corner of the conflict. The approach is thoroughly well thought out and “real” world considerations are explored deliciously.

Readers will relish considering swarms of underwater zombies, Israel’s security wall put to good use, the total loss of Iceland and other contingencies told through the defensive account of an unrepentant disease profiteer holed up in his antarctic bunker, a soldier’s recollection of a historic military debacle and many others.

The result is not just a deeper, more personal take on the zombie potentiality, but one that is continually fresh, with each chapter taking a new slice out of the fantasy. As each chapter is consumed, one sees another previously unconsidered angle of the crisis brought to life by the recollections of an earnest participant.

Each profile is autonomous and engrossing, yet all build a consistent and convincing narrative through a linear chronology from initial outbreak to worldwide infection through to victory and recovery.

This playful gravitas follows through even to the extensive footnotes, where real world references are folded in with zombie universe imaginings, the hyper-credible definitions sometimes requiring separate Googling to verify.

Max Brooks
World War Z
An Oral History of the Zombie War
Crown, September 12, 2006
352pp. $26.00
978-0307346605

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Lorne Written by:

Born a giant, hairless aphid to Polish and Romanian parents of the Semitic variety; tailors and teachers both stricken with mental disorders they would wait half a century to name, I spent the first ten years of my life thinking “Ech! It’s leaking again!” was my given name. In my late teens, a chance meeting with an uncle would have me wear the chador, thinking I was a stunningly beautiful Muslim girl, well into my twenties.

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