Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: Book of the Dead

One of my favourite things about reading any kind of story is the fact that it came from somewhere, and not just the mind of the author, but often something the author read, saw or experienced led to the creation of the story.

In zombie apocalypse literature, that story is Night of the Living Dead (1968), the George Romero black and white classic that really changed popular cultures perception of zombies from people under a voodoo curse to the reanimated corpses risen from the grave we all know now.

In 1989 Editors John Skipp and Craig Spector put together The Book of the Dead, a collection of zombie apocalypse stories inspired by the classic George Romero film.  Contributors included Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, Richard Laymon and more.  In terms of zombie apocalypse literature, this short story collection is really where it all started.

It is important to say that these stories are incredibly graphic, stomach-turning and filled with sex and violence.  Honestly a large number of these stories were incredibly hard for me to get through and I'm a big fan of zombie stories - without going into too much detail, lets just say there are more than a few zombies that do stuff you'd rather not think about in these stories.

The stand out for me, and the reason I'm glad my wife got me the book (It had been sitting on my used-bookstore watch-list for five years before I gave up the hope of finding it and asked for her help) is the Robert R. McCammon story Eat Me.  It won the 1989 Bram Stoker award for best short fiction and honestly, after reading a number of nihilistic stories about the undead taking over the earth, it was a surprisingly beautiful tale that really blew me away.

The book (again not for the faint of heart) is really something anyone who likes to claim loves zombie stories should read - I know from personal experience that it's hard to find, but trust me, it is totally worth the effort.

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