Of Zombie Bondage

My coworker Currer Bell recommended a book the other day. I read it, and now I’m angry at her: very, very angry. I could practically kill her for not recommending it sooner.

World War Z by Max Brooks is a fantastic book. I would say it’s the best book I’ve read in ages, except that I just finished Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, which is also a fantastic book. I went all summer without reading a book that I really liked (unless you count the various books of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series which, collectively and individually, are brilliant). Then, bam! September gets here and I get two knock-outs.

Must be the weather. I’ve said it before, but dear sweet Jesus, I love cold weather. Not that mid-70s is cold, but after this boiling summer, it’s such a relief. I’m a reverse lizard. Warm weather makes me sluggish and cranky. Cooler weather makes me active and happy and tolerable as a human being.

The kitties are loving it, too. Any critter that wears a permanent fur coat is bound to like cooler temps. They’re getting snugglier, more likely to curl up on the couch or in bed. And I get to wear better clothes. I’m not suggesting that I look less than stunning in any outfit (or out of it, and don’t you forget it), but if there are degrees of stunning, then I’m stunninger in long sleeves and hats and scarves.

It’s not cold enough for the really heavy clothes yet, of course, but at least today I got to wear short sleeves and a long skirt without burning up. Complimenting the outfit was a little black choker. For as long as I can remember I’ve liked chokers. There’s just something attractive about them. When someone pointed out to me the bondage implications of chokers, I felt dumb for not having noticed it myself. It’s true, of course; besides being aesthetically pleasing, there’s a lot of sexual implication in chokers.

Which brings me to a joke I made today. It’s not actually all that funny, but you’ve got to make due with the material you’re given. I noticed the Standard and Poor’s Bond Guide sitting on the reference desk. It’s got to be the most boring book ever, or at least I assume so. I’ve never actually opened it. Something to do with money and finances. Blech.

So anyway, my joke: I added a sticky note that said “age” right after the word “bond.” Standard and Poor’s Bondage Guide, now—that’s a book I would read.

But back to my original point. It’s as if Max Brooks interviewed me about everything I like in a book and then wrote World War Z as a favor to me personally. The book is the report of the UN Commission after the zombie war.

Yep.

The book is a collection of interviews with people who survived the war. There are housewives, military personnel, doctors, politicians, and ordinary folks from around the world, all telling about the horrors of the two-year zombie war.

The whole thing is a snarky parody. The whole thing is a study in dark humor. The whole thing is a detailed, devastatingly funny satire.

For two years now I’ve been recommending Robin McKinley’s Sunshine to everyone I know. (Read that one in September, too, now that you mention it.) Now I have a new book to recommend to everyone. Or maybe I’ll just recommend the pair.

Nonfiction-wise, of course, I’m still hellbent on making everyone read Dan Savage’s The Commitment and Inga Muscio’s Cunt. As the library owns neither title, this is a difficult endeavor, but I will endure.

Master and Margarita was my annual reading from the canon. Each year I read at least one classic novel, and at least one fat Russian novel. Often it’s the same book.

I’m making it sound like a chore. I love to read the classics and the Russian greats. It’s just that I’ve already read a whole bunch of them. That’s what college was for. Now that I work in a public library, I need to play catch up and read some popular stuff. But I still allow myself to be sidetracked at least once each year.

M&M is a fine example of Soviet dissent literature, though to be honest, it’s not the best samizdat I’ve read. On the whole, the characters are too well off. They’re not starving, and they’re not homeless, and they’re not persecuted by the State, not too badly. The real reason to read M&M is for the religious themes and the political satire. And because one letter different makes it S&M.

Let me put it to you this way: the main character is Satan. He’s a nasty fella, sure enough, but you can’t help but like him. Despite all the murders and treachery and havoc he causes, Bulgakov’s Satan is a likeable guy, someone you’d like to drink vodka shots with in a bar.

A word about bars. Many of the books that end up on my To Read list come from Nonfiction Readers Anonymous. I don’t want to read Later, at the Bar, but I loved Sarah’s comment: “I like drinking and all, just prefer my Guinness at home. Especially now that there’s no smoking in most bars. I did so used to love smoking in bars. Sigh.”

EXACTLY! Listen, I know that smoking is bad. Not to mince words, but it kills you. That’s a bad thing.

But there is nothing, nothing, like having a drink and a smoke at a bar. Lots of people seem pretty happy that bars are smoke-free these days (“I don’t get that awful smell in my clothes!”) I like that awful smell. I like the atmosphere. Bars need to be a little bit disreputable. A good bar has smoke and cheap bear and neon and men with seriously long hair.

Salud!

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2 responses »

  1. Hallelujah, sister, I used to love just sucking in the bar atmosphere (consisting primarily of smoke), more than actually drinking. Of course this comes from being able to drink approximately 1.5 beers before falling down sick and hungover for the next 24 hours. I give new meaning to the term "low tolerance" (where alkihol is concerned, hopefully not otherwise). Frankly, since bars in my hometown went smokeless, I have not been in a bar. All those snooty clean-smelling long-living smug bastards can have ’em.Also, mission accomplished. I will go get "World War Z" immediately, if not sooner.

    Reply
  2. I can’t say I read World War Z since I downloaded it from Audible and listened to it on my iPod. It was a great listen. I like the way that the author framed it as an oral history. The author, Max Brooks, also wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. The man knows his undead.

    Reply

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