Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cute Overload and Things of an Undead Nature

Yeah, I know...I've been in kitten mode the last few blogs...when not rhapsodizing over Sacred Stone wine. A glass of which, by the way, sits beside me on the coffee table.

But...look at this picture. C'mon, could you concentrate on anything else if these cute little munchkins were in YOUR house? I think not!

From left to right: Loki, Raven, Ghengis, and Serafin.

I'm actually working on an outline for my mystery novel, MURDER FOR HIRE. It's going back out again to another publisher and I have to give them a synopsis AND an outline. You'd think that writing an outline for something you've already finished wouldn't be an issue. But it is. I HATE writing outlines.

I'd rather play with kittens and sip my wine.

Did I mention I'm really happy? Kittens, wine and another possibility to get my novel published? Oh, and MONDO ZOMBIE finally came out. MONDO ZOMBIE, for those of you who haven't had to listen to my whining over the last few years, is an anthology of zombie stories, actually the third of the BOOK OF THE DEAD series, edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector. Except John and Craig stopped working together after book number two, so John decided to edit Book Three on his own and changed the name. Anyway, I have a story in MONDO ZOMBIE and I've been waiting to see it published for over four years. The story, YOU'll NEVER BE LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN, is the touching tale of a first time film director trying to get his movie made while the dead come back to life. Here's a review from Hellnotes, a book review website for horror fans:

Book Review: Mondo Zombie

Mondo Zombie edited by John Skipp
Artwork: Alan Clark
Trade Hardcover: $35.00
Publisher: Cemetery Dance
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook

Okay, so ten years is a looooong time to wait to sink your teeth into another zombie anthology. But when you’ve got half of the genius zombie-editing duo known as Skipp and Spector doing duty, even ten years is worth the wait.Take a look at the table of contents page. The names alone should make you hungry for its bloody, pulsing contents. And when you find that not one of the stories is anything less than brilliant and respectful to the Romero-esque vision of a living dead Hell, then you know you’ve got something close to a ‘new classic’ in your hands.

The authors’ takes on the zombie end world theme in Mondo Zombie are many and varied. The internal cover blurb says it all “samurai zombies, wrestling chainsaw zombies, political zombies, sex with zombies, heartbreaking zombies, hardcore zombies, celebrity zombies, wannabe zombies, zombies in love, zombies in pieces, zombies in power, over a world turned to dust…”

With “the rising” of renewed interest in zombie fiction, Skipp brings together some of the genre’s best, but also manages to throw a variety of new voices into the mix, all of which most certainly hold their own against the veterans of horror.

There are stories of gory, knee slapping hilarity alongside tales of emotive brilliance. There’s even previously unpublished stories from two of the genre’s masters whom have passed on: Richard Laymon and Robert Bloch. Reading them reminds one of the heyday of horror, and what a master can do with so few words.

Some of the highlights for me?

Caitlin R. Kiernan’s “Two Worlds. And In Between” (dig that awesome borrowed title from The Sisters of Mercy!) was an exceptionally gruesome take on the end of the world, as seen through the eyes of a pair of very lost Goth young adults. I admit it: I’m a sucker for her work, novel or short. She has such a textural power in her words that I was actually a nauseous by story’s end.

Adam-Troy Castro’s story of a zombie penis, “From Hell It Came”, was just good B-movie fun- maybe one of the funniest stories I’ve ever read. He hits the over-the-top buttons with abandon and takes no prisoners.
As does the great (and where the hell have you been?) Del James with “Eye-Gouge”, a story of chainsaw welding zombies that makes you want to take a hot shower.

Dana Fredsti’s “You’ll Never Be Lunch In This Town Again” is Hollywood satire at its best, as a young director reassesses his real priorities as tinsel town collapses around him and his dwindling cast and crew.

(That's me! Isn't that cool?!)

John Skipp & Marc Levinthal’s “God Save The Queen” does more than justice to their adaptation of Clive Barker’s 1993 graphic novel partnership with Steve Niles, “Night of the Living Dead, London”. That ending is pure sublime beauty.

Robert Devereaux’s “Holy Fast, Holy Feast” is the best literary take on the concept of infinite possibilities I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. His skill in weaving and bobbing the multiple parallel stories is stunning.

Douglas E. Winter really digs deep and opens his soul in “The Zombies Of Madison County”, a tearjerker of a tale that examines the concept of lost true love.

Lisa Morton’s “Sparks Fly Upward” takes on the political/religious topic of abortion in a world of the living dead and limited resources for its survivors.

Brian Hodge’s “Naked Lunchmeat” is a drug-addled junkie’s prayer- something Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs would have loved. What will be the drug of choice in the living dead future? As usual Hodge makes it all look so simple, but the power of his style is deceptive. This guy is a master of words and image and this story will haunt you.

And M. Christian’s “The Buried And The Dead” is a nasty little ditty that leaves no hope for humanity.

But this by no means delineates the other stories as less than great. Let’s put it this way: I finished this almost 500-page book in less than a day. This is gore, and blood, and all things zombie that we’ve been waiting for. The anthology manages to encompass all of the various schools of style in horror- splatter, erotica, quiet, humorous, slipstream, and some I’d even be tempted to classify as Bizarro. Editorially speaking, finding such a range, with such quality, seems easy, but it isn’t. If there was any doubt about how well Skipp does solo, let this collection end all future uncertainty. This is the anthology your children will be slavering for in ten years’ time. This is classic zombie fiction as its best.

My only complaint is about Alan M. Clarke’s art. It’s good, but there’s not enough of it to really standout, something the publisher might want to re-think in future anthologies, especially one with stories so good that they each deserved their own art plate.

Bottom line: Skipp and Cemetery Dance Press deliver the goods in Mondo Zombie. But do us a favor, guys … try not to wait another ten years for the next one, huh? Some of are very hungry, indeed.

My other zombie story, A MAN'S GOTTA EAT WHAT A MAN'S GOTTA EAT, is in DANGER CITY, published by Contemporary Press, a small publishing company based in New York.

Yeah, I like zombies. And kittens. And wine.

Does this make me weird? Or just eclectic?


  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Dave Fitzgerald said…

    As a purely disinterested neutral party, I have to agree that Mondo Zombie is indisputably a classic and these four kittens are the paragons of pure cuteness!

  • At 9:45 PM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    Oh gawd. It's like a cluster of cute - too many kittens! ARGH! TEH CUTE!!!!

  • At 8:41 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Thank you for your unprejudiced comment, Mr. Fitzgerald!

    OL...yes. They are too cute. And they do that ALL the time. It's like being hit with waves of CUTE every time I go in the room...I think they're space aliens.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said…

    You're weird. But weird is good. Very good.

    And cute? Maybe? But to me those kittens look like they are about ready to pounce and rip my throat out...

  • At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Evil Willow said…

    Oh, dear.
    Here's another book I'm going to have to buy and add to my huge collection of library books.

    I'm in a strange state lately: I've been obsessing about zombies, William Powell and George Sanders (not necessarily in that order). Ever been on a Zombie Walk?

    And I'm seriously considering using those kitties as my wallpaper on my work computer, but I'm already the office Weirdo.

  • At 7:50 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    No, Mr. Fab...they just wanna LOVE you...

    Hi, Evil Willow! I have NOT been on a zombie walk, but it sounds like my sort of activity. Your interests are at least as diverse as my own and your taste in noir actors quite...tasty! In your world, did you ride 'em like ponies?

    Kittens as wallpaper are fairly normal...now if you used ZOMBIE kittens...your reputation would be cemented! Thanks for visiting my Den!

  • At 10:43 AM, Blogger Kayla said…

    It makes you wonderfully weird and eclectic :-)
    How exciting to see your story and name published!
    Majorly cool...

    And I'm partial to Loki

  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    It is kinda cool to see something that I wrote actually publisheed in a real live book...and especially to see my story follow Robert Bloch's last story that he wrote before he died...

    Loki is an angel...so is Raven. Mischievious little buggers when they're not logy from kitten colds...


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