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Zombies: Undead Literary Trend Lives On

41tV3gNZrFL._SL160_In a blog post for Newcity Lit college professor Monica Westin discusses the recent popularity of zombie books and questions the value of literary mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pride and Prejudice: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. The fact that many of these books have been bestsellers proves that they are obviously entertaining, but does this zombie trend have meaning beyond that? The proliferation of zombie tales of late could be owed in part to the novelty of experiencing characters that are primarily depicted in films or video games in print. Westin attributes most of the modern mythology and code of zombie behavior to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead film franchise. Through the years, Romero and other fellow horror directors, have used the undead to symbolize cultural fears that range from the spread of communism to globalized viral epidemics. However, Westin argues that when zombies are introduced into a classic piece of literature, “the meaning of the original book often gets lost or marginalized with the addition of a monster plotline.”

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters author Ben Winters disagrees with that argument, and counters with: “people enjoy seeing things they thought they knew well reinterpreted and turned into something completely different.” He also emphasizes that we “live in a world where everything is up for grabs in the creative marketplace.”

Westin also addresses the common argument that reading these amusing mash-up books will inspire young people to actually read the classics. Through polls of her own writing students, she found they “were no more likely to read the originals after having read the monster versions.” But, the professor is not ready to dismiss the mash-up genre altogether. “Sure, there are ways to do this that are creative and meaningful, like creating new models for globalization that make smart, allegorical use of history, and then there’s just dropping a zombie into a book for a gag—which, if not undead, isn’t exactly a creative living literary activity. But perhaps something is happening in literature that we can’t just write off and call derivative, or we risk writing off the potential of the age we live in.”

Happy Halloween Everyone!
Bestselling author Neil Gaiman just started a new tradition called “All Hallow’s Read”, where you give a scary book to someone on Halloween. Sounds like a treat to us! To learn more visit the “All Hallow’s Read” website or join the discussion on Twitter using #allhallowsread.

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