Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nonbelieving Literati Sidetrack

I’m not allowed in bookstores. I’m not allowed on Amazon unless I have a gift card or am strictly using it as a reference for selecting books from the library. This is due to my inability to leave without spending upwards of $100 on books. It’s a compulsion. I love books and have the same reverence for books that Henry Bemis shows in Time Enough at Last. So it was unfortunate that the selection for this session of the Nonbelieving Literati was unavailable at my library;

However they did have, and what I will discuss instead, is David Wellington's zombie-apocalypse trilogy:

From Publishers Weekly: Fans will relish the monster mash finale, in which a Welsh sorcerer, a horde of animated mummies and a decomposing zombie army engage in a pyrotechnic firefight complete with heavy artillery.

Your first question could be why “Monster” and not “Zombie” for the book titles? The answer for that lies in the several twists that Wellington has added to the Zombie genre; conscious zombies, the cause for reanimation lying in something referred to as “the Source” rather than a virus, and reanimated Celtic Bog Mummy from Scotland who turns out to be Mael Mag Och, a druid who believes he is to be the final instrument of judgment on mankind.

In Monster Island we meet Gary, a medical student faced with the inevitable choice of either becoming a zombie or zombie food. Working on the theory that the brain becomes damaged through lack of oxygen between death and reanimation, he decides to try and retain his consciousness by keeping his body packed in ice and his brain oxygenated through using life support medical equipment stolen from the hospital. He awakens to find his experiment a success. He is one of (we later discover) three individuals to make the transition as a conscious zombie.

These three individuals are the driving force of the “Monster” aspect for the trilogy. They have to decide between either retaining their humanity or abandoning it. As Mael explains to Gary; “There’s no debate, Gary. This is what we are. Uamhas. There’s good in this world and there’s evil, and we’re evil. Now either come with me or leave me be, lad. There’s work to do.” The choices the characters make throughout the course of the trilogy span all shades of grey as well as black or white.

Initially “The Source” was ambiguous; it could be either natural or supernatural. The way it was initially described changed depending on the character experiencing or using it. However as the story progressed through the trilogy, the magical and supernatural aspects of it and the characters became clear. I was a little disappointed by this. The traditional viral explanation for zombieism always left the genre in the category of extremely-unlikely-but-ever-so-slightly-possible and made it that much more intriguing. While I appreciate the twists of the genre to create something new to explore, I still wanted there to be logical explanations, even if the explanations weren’t apparent to the character.

As the next book for the Literati is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf and is ready for me to pick up at the library and I’m going on vacation in a couple weeks involving a long plane ride and plenty of time to read, I’m going to have to come up with a really good excuse for not reading it.**

Maybe I can blame the time spent on making Easy Cheesy Chili Dip.

** I fully intend to read it, but it’s Virgina Woolf for fuck sake. The last time I tried to read Virginia Woolf was Mrs. Dalloway and what a goddamn boring book that was!


Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading your take on the Woolf book. I don't think it's very long.

The Exterminator said...


Unbeknownst to you, the rest of the members have elected you the official Easy Cheesy Chili Dip caterer for the next meeting of our book club.

Wings are optional.

Ordinary Girl said...

Wings are not optional! ..but the bones are. :)

I have never read Wolfe, so I'm looking forward to it because it's something new for me. I have it in, but I'm going to finish the two books I'm reading now and start and finish Childhood's End too. None of the books are very long though so I expect to finish by the end of the month. And maybe this time I'll have a few days to reflect on the story and come up with an original commentary.

Have fun on your trip, Eno. Going anywhere fun? (I'm sure it's fun or you wouldn't be going, but that's just my way of not trying to be too nosy.)

Oh, and if you like zombie books, a friend of mine has recommended World War Z to me, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.

EnoNomi said...


I'm going to Amsterdam, Belgium and France. One of the perks of being married to a Belgian citizen is I get to go to Europe at least once a year.

I've both read World War Z and listend to the Audio book/performance. I recommend reading the book first as the audio is abridged, but it features really great readings by assorted actors and I'd have to say the best performance Mark Hamill has ever done.

Ordinary Girl said...


Sounds wonderful! I've never visited mainland Europe, but my parents spent some time in Brussels a few years ago.

Hopefully next year I'll be able to do some travel.