Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is There a Word For “Zombie-Like”?

I recently received as a gift from some geeks I know a copy of World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks.

World War Z is an impressive and endless series of interviews with human survivors of a global war with movie zombies. Admittedly, the narrative voices are all the same, the human emotions are counterfeit, and the sentences don’t sound like speech. It’s a humorless exercise in military technicalities, geopolitical trivia, and meaningless predictions: the X-86 will kill zombies while the FT-91 will be useless; the American government will retreat to Hawaii while Cuba becomes a superpower and Israel walls itself in; Iron Maiden will make a comeback. It’s a horror story crossed with a game of Risk. While sometimes gripping, the book moves at the pace of the undead. It progresses mechanically, like war games and mock drafts, with the added lure of gore.

My girlfriend read the first thirty pages. “It’s about AIDS,” she said. I think it’s also about something scarier—what if people just turned on each other? Mindless killing, cannibalism, humanity self-destructing. Someone literate in Latin could find a word for this. The book is, cover to cover, obsessed with death, but so is Hamlet. So is Cormac McCarthy, whose latest book wants to package with World War Z (as well as REAL Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book) to save you money, in case you need a gift for your grandfather.

I scoured the internet for reviews of World War Z. This thing gets fewer thumbs down than The Godfather. Paramount optioned the film rights before the novel arrived in bookstores. Random House has set up an elaborate website, which is tongue-in-cheek without being stylish or funny.

The geeks were eager for me to read it and pleased and avuncular with me when I finished it. They love World War Z, with its people behaving like machines and its massacre of the ignorant. The geeks value being right over being interesting. They value trivia over aesthetics. Peyton Manning, this is why some people don’t get you and your audible-polka.

Others who might enjoy World War Z:
  • Bill Parcells
  • Dick Cheney
  • Ralph Nader
  • Michelle Wie and her dad
  • Spelling-bee champions
  • The mildly autistic
  • Tim Duncan
  • Pete Sampras
  • Anne Bancroft
  • Slayer
  • Distance runners
  • My barber, Rich
  • Laura Linney
  • The lady who stamped my passport at Customs
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Rob Deer


Musa D said...


I like that last one, if only because it gets me thinking about English words whose nominal and adjectival forms are non-homonymic homophones. I can't come up with any. If popularized, zombie/zomby might make The Elements of Style.

DrGravitee said...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou...