There are some books you should actually read if you wake up dead, depending on the exact circumstance of your revenance, The Bible, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, The Necronomicon, Dracula, Interview With The Vampire, William And The Ancient Souls, and especially Max Brooks’s Zombie Survival Guide, because it’s good to study the tactics of your potential enemy.
The books on this list, however, have been chosen on the basis that, being dead, they will be out of your pervue. Yes, it’s a sort of reverse book bucket list, a must not, don’t waste your precious life, or if you’re undead, your precious unlife. Time is too short, even if you have eternity.
With contributions from ,Brian Keene, Elizabeth Coldwell, Jan Kozlowski,Regina Riley, Vanessa Vaughn, Mercy Loomis, Kilt Kilpatrick, Jeremy Wagner, Jeanine McAdam, S M Cross, Gina McQueen, Stacey Graham, R G Hart, Lois H Gresh, Isabel Roman, Stacy Brown, Francesca Lia Block, Dana Fredsti, Michael Marshall Smith, and J A Saare.
Dear Editor, Zombies are perfectly entertaining when they are slow but ravening monsters eating your guts. They are delightful as an ironical representation of the breeders and spenders of consumer society. They are superb when they are a diseased horde overrunning a not too distant future world. However, when you start having relationships with zombies, there are no bones about it, it is just necrophilia. Gross necrophilia. At least vampires are sometimes suave, or at least sparkly. At least their parts still work. And vampire maidens may be a little cool and pale, but are all négligées and buxom blood lust. Having your precious bodily fluids seductively extracted to the point of death by such a one is a perfectly acceptable way to go.
Zombies, however, are rotting corpses. That’s just icky. Their parts fall off. Eww. Zombie love is horrible, profane, grossly unnatural. It should be chilling, like in W W Jacob’s classic The Monkey’s Paw, or Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Scary. These stories are all nod, nod, wink, wink. They’re all cheesy and tongue in cheek. Usually all blue and protruding, and someone else’s tongue in someone else’s cheek. And I won’t even go in to what type of cheese. Stop it. Zombie romance is not all good fun until someone’s nose falls off, it is just wrong.
There has of late been a slew of parodies in which witless hacks insert the undead into much loved classics. It may be ‘a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains’, also it seems that a writer possessed of little wit must be in want of a better author’s work to appropriate. Here the author has taken substantial amounts of Jane Austen’s work and interspersed a few passages of his own devising, which unfortunately read a little like a Carry On movie,
She remembered the lead ammunition in her pocket and offered it to him. “Your balls, Mr. Darcy?” He reached out and closed her hand around them, and offered, “They belong to you, Miss Bennet.”
crossed with cliched martial arts action and weak gore,
“The first ninja drew his sword and let out a battle cry as he charged towards Elizabeth. When his blade was only inches from her throat, she moved from her opponent’s path and dragged her Katana across his belly. the ninja dropped to the floor – his innards spilling from the slit faster than he could stuff them back in. Elizabeth sheathed her sword, knelt behind him, and strangled him to death with his own large bowel.”
With no pride and extreme prejudice, we can only hope some kind of injunction can stop this author from being allowed to apply either his wit or his bowels to our literary heritage.
3. Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the story of Thomas Cromwell, sashaying around the court of Henry VIII, plotting and scheming and helping old Bluff Hal cut off the heads of wives, friends, teachers, servants, petitioners, and Cromwell’s, his own. He does an awful lot of talking about himself in second person, present tense. Apparently it won the Man Booker Prize. That’s one literary prize that’s really gone down hill since they got into the online gigolo business. This one is especially recommended if you were Anne Boleyn in a previous life. Given the number of former Anne Boleyns traipsing around online historical forums, there must have been several thousand of them when she was alive, or else my transmigratory mathematics are all messed up. You can just hear Miss Mantel’s version of old Crommers twirling his moustaches in villainous glee at the thought of snicking off all those heads from those pale white necks. Doubtless his only regret was that train tracks hadn’t been invented yet (for the tying on of fair damsels too). Dastardly.
2. Fifty Shades Of Grey by E L James
Clever marketing resulted in this saddoes de Sade becoming something of a phenomenon. By fudging the figures and claiming it sold better than Harry Potter, a claim much repeated by the gormless media, along with a great deal of video showing ladies reading passages and looking somewhat embarrassed, sales were indeed stimulated (you can read the true facts here). However, rather than being read, this ‘novel’ had particular passages perused. Unfortunately flicking through to the ‘good bits’ didn’t work because there weren’t any. Of course after you’re dead you won’t need the mild genital stimulus in which this piece of pop porn reputedly results. Rather than the usual pleasure based sexual stimulus, this banal bit of BDSM works by being so stupid as to cause blood to flow away from the brain. With no where else to go, the excess blood naturally seeks the lowest point, and usually lodges in the genital area. Housewives’ helper indeed. Please housewives, go back to Valium. It’s much more pleasanter. Health Warning – If you remove your shoes, reading this book may cause swelling of the feet.
1. The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
The story of how a plain young girl gets all mixed up over some disco vampires and werewolves of Washington. Is that a metaphor? No, sadly. The Vampire is a figure of mystery and terror, ruthless and bloodthirsty. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the bloodsuckers of 60s and 70s Hammer flicks, to the tormented brooders of Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Angel, to the marauding freaks of 30 Days Of Night, vampires are supposed to be scary and evil. Even Darren Shan’s young adult Vampire’s Assistant series is wittier, cleverer, scarier and more original. The looming, sinister cult figure has been reduced to a poor player in a badly executed teen romance. The rich and complex mythology of an ancient, hidden Vampire culture is derived from elsewhere (mostly from Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles) and reduced to cliches and tawdry domestics.
Here I’ll paraphrase, “Oh Edwin, I wish you’d hold me, I’m so plain, when we moved to Washington all the clothes I brought were too permeable. I know you’re a 108 year old teen whose still in high school, but I still love you, Edwin, you’re so charismatic and sparkly!” “My name’s not Edwin.” “You don’t understand me, waaa waaaa. I’m going to have your baby.”
As the old saying goes, if you give a dog a bone he can feed himself for a day, teach him to fish and he can start a multi-million dollar empire. Yes, I know, it does not make sense.