Undead Anonymous

Zombie Fiction Friday

May 20th, 2011

In honor of Zombie Awareness Month (yes, apparently, May is Zombie Awareness Month), I’ve asked Jerry from Breathers if he would like to share his thoughts on some of his favorite current zombie fiction. So without further delay, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jerry!


Thanks dude. So to be honest, I don’t read a lot of, like, zombie fiction. Just because I’m a zombie doesn’t mean I want to read about myself. How narcissistic is that? I mean, do private investigators only read detective novels? If they do, they’re total tools.

But anyway, I have read a couple of zombie novels recently that I thought were pretty good, so here’s my take on them.

Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore

This is a story about a college professor dude in rural Ohio who wakes up from a car accident to find out he’s, like, a total zombie. Only unlike the other brain dead zombies that are freaking everyone out, he’s a smart zombie. At first he doesn’t even realize he’s one of us, but when it becomes apparent, he pretty much gives in to his hunger for human burgers.

But as he becomes isolated from the humans in his life (his friend and his girlfriend, who seems totally hot), he finds himself bonding with the other zombies and leading them across Ohio in search of food and purpose. It’s pretty cool, in a funny, disgusting, existential kind of way.

The main character kind of reminds me of Andy, all philosophical and wondering about the meaning of things. Personally, I think he should just chill out and have some fun. Smoke a bowl and drink some Jack. But of course, that’s what got me here, so maybe I’m not the best one to give out advice.

Zombies and Shit by Carlton Mellick III

This is one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. In a good way. Funny and gross with a lot of action and hot chicks. It’s like a mixture of the zombie apocalypse, The Running Man, and a totally fucked up version of Lost. Only without Hurley.

A bunch of dudes and dudettes, like twenty of them, wake up in an abandoned building on this island that’s totally swarming with zombies. Turns out they’re on a game show. And only one of them gets to make it off the island alive. So like, one by one they each get picked off, either by the zombies or by each other. Bummer.

The book was a lot of fun, with a bunch of zombies and zombie smart cars and these mechanized zombie dogs that totally freaked me out. I liked a lot of the characters, and totally related to Scavy and Junko, but Heinz was a complete dick. Oh, and one of the characters is a cybernetic Mr. T, that dude from The A-Team. That was awesome!


Scott Kenemore is the author of the Zen of Zombie series, including The Zen of Zombie, The Art of Zombie Warfare, and Zombies vs Nazis

Carlton Mellick III is the author of numerous Bizarro novels, including Satan Burger, The Haunted Vagina, and Christmas on Crack

Y is for You, Z is for Zombie

October 18th, 2010

We’ve reached the end of the alphabet, which culminates with a single title for each of the letters Y and Z.  And with the dearth of titles I’ve read for both of them, I decided to combine the two letters here.

And by dearth, I mean I haven’t read, or can’t recall having read, any other books that begin with the letters Y or Z.  Is there something I should have read?  Something I should read?  Like I need to add more books to my TBR pile, which is already almost an entire shelf on one of my bookcases.

But before I get to the final two titles of my Favorite Reads From A to Z, I just wanted to thank everyone who’s given this a glance and stopped by to thrown down the occasional comment.  I hope you enjoyed the posts and found some titles that you’d never considered picking up before. Happy reading!

And now, to wrap this up…

You Suck: A Love Story, Christopher Moore
The sequel (after twelve years) to Bloodsucking Fiends, this one picks up with Tommy, the frozen-turkey-bowling night shift employee at Safeway, discovering that he’s just been turned into a vampire by his girlfriend, Jody, who recently became a vampire herself. Things get complicated when Tommy’s turkey-bowling buddies find out he’s a vampire. Throw in a a homeless Emperor, a blue-dyed Vegas call girl, and a vampire cat named Chet, and what you get is classic Christopher Moore. The diary entries from Abby Normal, Tommy and Jody’s goth minion, steal the show.

The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks
Arguably the book that laid the groundwork for the zombie madness that has engulfed film and fiction. This always practical, often enlightening, and frequently amusing manual about how to survive a zombie attack is filled with helpful advice such as: Use your head, cut off theirs; and Blades don’t need reloading. With weapon and combat techniques and case histories of recorded zombie outbreaks, this book has it all. A must read for anyone who wants to survive the zombie apocalypse.

X is for e(X)cellent

October 15th, 2010

Or, as Charles Montgomery Burns says: Exxxcellent.

Since there aren’t any titles that make the list for my favorite novels beginning with the letter X (and since I’ve never read any books that start with an X), I thought I’d use this entry to list my most excellent reads, or my Top 10 Favorite Reads from all of my previous entries.

In no particular order…

The Best of the Best

Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Favorite novel, hands down. The death of Simon still haunts me. Who’s got the conch?

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
My gold standard for dark comedy and social satire. One of the most influential novels I’ve ever read.

The Stand, Stephen King
First time I ever mourned the death of a fictional character. King is the greatest storyteller of our time.

Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
A calypso based religion, a midget, and the end of the world. All blackly hilarious. Only in a world imagined by Vonnegut.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Nearly 60 years later, it’s still one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Elegantly crafted sentences that just hum with the beauty of the written word. An inspirational read.

Wicked, Gregory Maguire
Before there were mash-ups, Maguire showed how to take a classic story and breathe new life into it. Exceptionally smart and entertaining.

Lamb, Christopher Moore
Nobody does humorous irreverence like Moore and this one stands alone on a podium built for one.

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
One of the most disturbing, compelling, and entertaining novels I’ve ever read. A brilliant piece of writing.

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
A voice like no other. Chandler set the bar for detective noir and it’s never been challenged.

Close But No Cigar
High Fidelity (Hornby), Wonder Boys (Chabon), Geek Love (Dunn), A Dirty Job (Moore), Invisible Monsters (Palahniuk), The Shining (King), Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), 1984 (Orwell), Lolita (Nabakov), and In Cold Blood (Capote).

W is for Wicked, Water, and Wizard

October 11th, 2010

The W’s presented a bit more of a challenge than the prior two entries, as I’ve read more than fifteen novels that begin with this letter of the alphabet. While the top two were never in any serious danger of being left off the final ballot, the last one was a tough call and could have gone four different ways. In the end, and admittedly after some serious flip-flopping, I had to leave Watership Down (Adams), Wonder Boys (Chabon), and A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle) on the outside looking in.

Other notable and memorable titles I’ve read that begin with W include The Witching Hour (Rice), War of the Worlds (Wells), Wolf’s Hour (McCammon), Watchers (Koontz), The Waste Lands and Wolves of the Calla (King), World War Z (Brooks), Where the Red Fern Grows (Rawls), Wuthering Heights (Bronte), and Walden (Thoreau).

The three that made it? A famous witch, a circus fable, and an epic search for a dark tower.

You’re the Top
Wicked, Gregory Maguire
I know the musical adaptation made a lot of noise, but give me the book every time. The story of the Wicked Witch of the West prior to Dorothy’s arrival in Oz paints a very different picture of the events that eventually unfolded after Dorothy’s arrival. Filled with heartache, humor, romance, political intrigue, and social commentary, Wicked does a great job of making you see the alleged villain’s side of the story. If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, then you really need to give this a read.

Two Mints in One
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
My favorite book I read in 2009, I got completely swept up in the story of a ninety-three-year-old nursing home resident who reminisces about his time spent working in the circus to the point that he almost begins to lose track of what’s real and what’s not. The characters are delightful, the story intoxicating, and the prose inspired. A wonderful ride back in history to the circus heyday of the early twentieth century.

Three on a Match
Wizard and Glass, Stephen King
The fourth installment in King’s The Dark Tower series, Wizard is, in my opinion, the best of the seven. I also believe it’s just flat out one of King’s best novels. If the purpose of storytelling is to get the reader emotionally swept up in the lives of its characters, than this does the job. I remember getting chills reading certain passages and chapters as the book neared its end. Read the first three installments in the series just to get to this one.

*Final Bonus Titles: The Play’s the Thing
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee
Although completely different on every level, these are two of my favorite plays to read. Both Beckett and Albee are masterful.

V is for Vamped

October 6th, 2010

Apparently, the tail end of the alphabet is a bit on the lean side when it comes to book titles. At least for book titles I’ve read. If the last half a dozen letters of the alphabet are super models, then we’re talking Kate Moss lean. Except for the letter W. That one’s more like Tyra Banks.

While the letter U coughed up just two titles, only one of which was worth recommending, the letter V pushes the anorexic envelope even further, with just one title to be had. And even though it’s a book a lot of you might not have read, it definitely deserves it’s place on the list.

The One and Only:
Vamped, David Sosnowski
“Here’s a tip: When you give the world one last chance to save your life, be specific about the how.”
And so begins this playful and funny 2004 novel about a one-hundred-year-old vampire bachelor bored with his existence – which includes synthetic blood, Mr. Plasma machines, and hunting preserves. The thrill and excitement of chasing humans has vanished because, well, most of the humans have vanished, too. Vampires outnumber humans in the middle of the twenty-first century and Marty, our protagonist, is considering suicide when he ends up adopting a six-year-old orphan girl and trying to raise a human daughter on his own.

U is for Ubik

September 29th, 2010

From everything I’ve heard and from the lists of the Greatest Novels of All Time I’ve read, U should be for Ulysses by James Joyce.  But since that book still remains on my TBR list (and on my To Get A Copy To Be Read list), then that leaves me with just two novels I’ve read that begin with the letter U.  And although I thought Usher’s Passing by Robert McCammon was okay, I wouldn’t put it in my top three McCammon novels, so it’s not making this list.

That leaves me with only one title that starts with U worth recommending as one of my favorite reads:

The Cheese Stands Alone
Ubik, Philip K. Dick
Joe Chip works for Glen Runciter, who has just died in an explosion that was deliberately set by Runciter’s business competitors.  Except Joe and the other agents who survived the explosion keep getting messages from their dead employer on the television.  If that’s not weird enough, other survivors of the explosion keep turning up dead.

Reality gets a makeover in this dark, twisted, existential comedy filled with telepaths, precogs, suspended animation, reincarnation, time travel, and an aerosol spray that offers salvation.

Ubik was named one of the 100 Best English Language Novels by TIME magazine.

Creepy Owl Movies and a New Man Crush

September 26th, 2010

I’ve always found owls to be a little spooky and disconcerting. Never mind that they can go all Linda Blair with the head spinning around (minus the projectile vomiting of pea soup), but they’re kind of creepy, sitting there and staring, asking their incessant question, looking like a creature from another planet.

It didn’t help when I saw the previews for the alien abduction film The Fourth Kind, which I never saw but which is enough to convince me that owls are plotting their next human anal probe.

Now there’s the animated film Legend of the Guardians, which I find completely disturbing on an entirely new level, since these owls are actually talking and plotting and thinking. I don’t want owls to be thinking. I already know what they’re thinking. And it’s not in my best interests. I mean, look at these three. Do they look like they’re up to any good?

Oh, and we can’t forget about Bubo, the golden, mechanical owl from the original Clash of the Titans. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look like a mentally stable robot owl to me.

So when it comes to mechanical, animated, anthropomorphic, alien abducting owls, count me out.

But if you’re talking about crime films set in Boston, MA, and starring a talented actor, writer, and director, then count me in. Yes, there’s a new man crush in town (sorry Bradley Cooper) and his name is Ben Affleck.

Okay, I realize Ben’s been around a while. I first saw him in Chasing Amy and later in Dazed and Confused (even though Dazed had come out a few years earlier). And then came Good Will Hunting and Dogma, which I absolutely loved – both the films and his roles in them.

But beginning in 1999, there came a run of films that I found, well, less than memorable:

Reindeer Games. Bounce. Pearl Harbor.
Jersey Girl. Paycheck. Daredevil.


But then came his portrayal of George Reeves in Hollywoodland (2006) and everything he’s been in since then has been man-crush worthy – if not the films themselves, most definitely his parts in them.

Supporting roles in Smokin’ Aces, Extract, and He’s Just Not That Into You were solid, along with a leading role in State of Play. In 2007, he made his directorial debut with (and co-wrote) the excellent Gone Baby Gone. And now, not only the leading role in The Town, but also co-writer for the adapted screenplay as well as director.

From the acting to the writing to the story to the directing, The Town was one of the best films I’ve seen this year. And more than that, you can now count Ben Affleck as one of the handful of directors whose films I will go see simply because he’s the one behind the camera.

T is for To, Tooth, and Talisman

September 16th, 2010

We’re in the home stretch and down to the last quarter (more or less) of the alphabet. And looking forward, there are only a couple of letters left with any significant entries. Not a whole lot of books that start with X, Y or Z. So let’s try to make this one count.

Some of the titles I’ve read that begin with the letter T include The Three Musketeers (Dumas), The Time Machine (Wells), Treasure Island (Stevenson), The Turn of the Screw (James), They Thirst (McCammon), Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald), The Tommyknockers (King), and The Tomb and The Touch (F. Paul Wilson).

While I enjoyed all of the titles above, the three that made the top of the list were fairly clear cut and diverse. One of them is a classic, one a twisted fairy tale, and the other the book that made me want to become a writer.

Classically Superb
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
No, the word “to” is not an article, so this book falls here rather than in the Ks. Although I’m sure someone can come up with another author who falls into this category, I can’t think of a better one hit wonder than Harper Lee. Her only published book, To Kill a Mockingbird still resonates with me thirty years after I first read it. And the names are as familiar to me as my friends. Scout, Jem, Boo Radley. I even named one of my cats Atticus. A Pulitzer Prize of a novel.

Twistedly Delightful
The Tooth Fairy, Graham Joyce
This 1997 British Fantasy Award winner for best novel is a dark, supernatural, and wonderful coming of age story that resonates with great characters and a steady, underlying menace. At times playful, horrifying, and charged with sexual tension, Joyce writes a novel with an underlying wit and menace that makes for a compelling narrative.

Markedly Infulential
The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
I was sitting on the couch in my room during my sophomore year in college, reading The Talisman and getting so caught up in the adventure unfolding within the pages that the world outside of the book ceased to exist. At one point I stopped and thought: “I want to make others feel this way.” While it’s not my favorite book by King or Straub (those would be The Stand and Ghost Story), this novel had a profound impact on the path I would eventually choose to follow.

Bonus Commentary
Twilight, Stephanie Myers
Personally, I’m not a big YA reader or a big fan of vampires. When it comes to horror, give me aliens, ghost, or zombies. But I will say that vampires should never, ever, EVER sparkle in the sunlight.

S is for Shining, Stand, and Survivor

September 7th, 2010

Out of all the letters in the alphabet, the letter S proved to have the largest selection of books to choose from to date. It also proved to be the most difficult letter in terms of picking my favorites. But since I can only put three on the list, I had to make some tough calls, including leaving off titles such as Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut), Swan Song (McCammon), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury).

Some of the other titles that didn’t make the final cut are:

The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), A Separate Peace (Knowles), Skin Deep (Hiaasen), Strangers (Koontz), Shadowland (Straub), and Salem’s Lot and Skeleton Crew (King).

I’ll even add The Sun Also Rises to the list, in spite of the fact that I generally can’t stand Hemingway and he’s made my Classic Literature Razzie list for my least favorite literary novel of all time (A Farewell to Arms). But for some reason, I actually recall not hating this book in my high school American Lit class. Which is about the highest praise I’m willing to give to anything written by Hemingway.

On to the three titles that made the podium:

The Stand, Stephen King
Not only is this my favorite book that begins with the letter S, but King’s apocalyptic novel of good versus evil is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve read it at least three times, having read it the first time while on vacation in Australia with my family in the summer of 1985 before my sophomore year in college. Best praise I can give it? I had to stop reading it at one point to mourn my favorite character when King decided to kill him off.  King at his best.

Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk
Also one of my favorite reads of all time, Survivor is told from the POV of Tender Branson, the last remaining survivor of the Creedish death cult. The book opens in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 with our hero narrating his life story into the airplane’s black box, having hijacked the plane and released all of the passengers and crew. The rest of the book, told in descending order of chapters and pages, is a flashback explaining how he ended up alone in the airplane. It’s a great social satire on religion and the cult of celebrity.

The Shining, Stephen King
I tried to limit King to just one title, but I couldn’t leave off one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. This one actually had me awake into the early hours of the morning, my hands gripping the pages, unable to put it down. While I know the film version is considered a classic, it’s a horrible adaptation of the book, focusing on Nicholson’s descent into insanity and downplaying the supernatural element and the psychic ability, “the shining,” of the little boy, Danny. Read the book. It’s far superior to the film.

R is for Road and Regulators

August 23rd, 2010

Other than the two titles that made the final list, the only other books I’ve read that begin with the letter R include The Red Badge of Courage (Crane), Robinson Crusoe (Defoe), Road Trip of the Living Dead (Henry), and Rose Madder (King).  I’ve never read any of the Rabbit series written by John Updike or Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, though I have Never Let Me Go on my list of books TBR.

As for other familiar titles that begin with R? If this was a category on Jeopardy!, I’d be the last one pressing my buzzer.

No Ragtime or Rebecca or Rich Man, Poor Man.
No Runaway Jury or Red Storm Rising or The Return of the King.
No Right Stuff or Razor’s Edge or Red Pony.

I’m apparently very deficient when it comes to reading my R’s. But I’ll make up for it next week. For now, I give you my two favorite books and my favorite narrative poem that begin with the letter R.

Blue Ribbon:
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
A bleak, haunting, Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of a father and son’s journey across a post-apocalyptic America in which few humans have survived. The fact that you never find out exactly what happened to cause the cataclysmic disaster only adds to the power of the narrative. Written with sparse prose and no chapters, the story is both heartbreaking and nearly impossible to stop reading.

Whatever Color Ribbon Is For Second Place:
The Regulators, Richard Bachman
Bachman is, of course, the famous pseudonym of Stephen King, having written a number of novels and novellas. Although their writing styles are similar, Bachman tends to be a little more fast-paced than King, with his narrative, coming at you relentlessly in this supernatural novel about a spirit who takes over the mind of an autistic boy and turns his suburban hometown into a wild west nightmare.

Poe*Bonus – Favorite Narrative Poem
The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
While I love Poe’s version, I have a hard time remembering the actual lines to the poem because I’ve rewritten parts of it several times, including my ode to turning 40 titled Poe and the Big 4-0: The Raven Reprised. Most recently, I rewrote The Raven for a Best Man’s speech that starts out: “Once upon a bachelor dreary…”