Zombies With Brains

One of my favorite novels of last year was Ron Currie Jr.‘s Everything Matters!, an ambitious story about faith, family, and the apocalypse. (He expanded on those points in an e-mail Q&A here last year.) That book is now out in paperback, and he’s working on his next novel. It’s a zombie tale, though he insists to Time Out New York that he’s not jumping on a bandwagon:

Obviously, it’s a trend right now, and it’s certainly not a trend that I’m trying to chase, but I’ve always been really fascinated by zombie stories. But I believe I’m treating them in a way that I’ve never seen before; making a real effort to explain zombie psychology. The assumption, I think, at least with the modern Romero-type zombie, is that there is no psychology there. But I disagree. I think there is—it’s not terribly complex, but it is terribly compelling. The common notion is that the zombie wants to devour and destroy and kill, and I disagree. I think the zombie wants to turn the whole world [into zombies]. Zombies hold their own God within them, and they want to turn everything into it.

Currie mentioned his zombie fixation in a 2008 essay on apocalyptic fiction, in which he wrote, “the kid in me still loves nothing more than a good old-fashioned zombie yarn.” The piece also sheds a little light on some of the models for Everything Matters!, like Kurt Vonnegut‘s Galapagos and George Saunders‘ story “Bounty,” both of which look for the humor in end-of-the-world tales. As he writes, “Like much of Vonnegut’s work, Galapagos is hilarious but in an acutely uncomfortable way; as one reviewer said famously, we laugh in self-defence.”

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