Saturday, May 9, 2009

Zombie Three: “Passion Play”, “Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man”, “How the Day Runs Down”

Believe it or not, this is the final post about the closing stories in “The Living Dead” anthology, something I didn’t believe I would get to, considering how often I forgot to read the anthology. This is the problem with electronic versions of books. The icon always fades in comparison to the Mozilla Firefox short cut. With no further ado, let’s finally wrap this up.

“Passion Play” by Nancy Holder: When you read about zombies, at least I would like to believe; your thoughts point towards the apocalypse and then more or less to good old fateful Bible and the Second Coming. But zombie stories are usually either psychological or survival horror or just plain weird and religion gets elbowed away by primal instincts. Thank you Miss Holder for your author intervention and showing some zombie turmoil in the hearts of clergy men. This story isn’t gruesome, well not most of the time, but explores the gruesome nature of humans and the hypocrisy of the church. In a nutshell the German Father Meyer has to witness the sacrilege of the Christian principles and human morals all for praising the glory and greatness of God by enacting the Passions of Christ using a zombie and crucifying it. The reason is to keep the small village of Oberammergau protected from the new plague aka zombies, an old tradition that worked like a charm back with the great plague. What bothers the crap out of me is that every clergy man is okay with the idea of torturing a former living being for two reasons: 1) the holy Church has gone through a transformation to accommodate itself with the new reality and 2) everybody in showbiz does it and why not, when all humane organizations claim that zombies are not really people. The subtle notion that Christianity in all its forms just adapts to whatever comes and in the process swallows everything its path just so that it remains number one in the Religion Top Five Chart List is impressively displayed with a very morbid and uncomfortable experience for the reader. Best part about this story is that everybody get what they deserve aka die miserably.

“Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man” by Scott Edelman: I rather enjoyed this story, because it indulges in one of my guilty pleasures and namely the stream-of-consciousness gig, but as with all things guilty, when you kick it into excess it sours the whole experience. Basically we have an author, who is caught in the library, when the zombie apocalypse strikes and he works out his stress by depicting various unfortunate and a little eccentric people, dying in often bizarre ways or handling the situation in an interesting manner. Prose is amusing enough to keep you going, but the self conscious narration and often self correction can affect the nerves of the readers as it happened with me. In its essence the story is more or less a scrapbook of thoughts about zombies, survival, life and vignettes that bring the point. Even as I list all these things that bugged me I also would like to point out that they are more or less dictated by my own taste rather than the skill of Mister Edelman, who has done a formidable job at this genre and wins my overall thumbs-up for the great concept.

“How the Day Runs Down” by John Langan: I find this the perfect closing story for the anthology once I got to the ending, but the sad part was that I had to skip the second half to satisfy my curiosity. Much like “Almost the Last Story by the Almost Last Man” this is a series of monologues and dialogues about zombies spreading through the world and killing people off. However what tired me and killed my interest was the format. I just don’t like screenplays and the theatre and this story was morphed to be a performance in a theatre, depicted word by word with the audience and stage effects and the typical typed lines with no description fitted. This just turns me off from even the greatest ideas, a reason I also didn’t enjoy Faust as well [though it had that verse thing as well to make me go crazy].


Kristopher said...

I remember reading "Passion Play" years ago. It was 7th or 8th grade, just as I was starting to wonder about some of the tenets of Christianity, and the story left a permanent impression on me.

A side note: I remember several of the stories from this anthology--including Passion Play, This Years Class Picture, and Calcutta, Lord of Nerves--were in a pair of anthologies put out during splatterpunk's heyday called Book of the Dead and Still Dead: Book of the Dead 2.

Both were edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector. I suspect they're out of print, but if you enjoyed this one, you might want to see if you can find used copies.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

Thanks for the comment. I have to say that these are very memorable stories and as a whole this anthology really is a strong one. I still have a closing overview about it. However thanks for all the suggestions about more zombie fiction. I can always handle more zombies.

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