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Zombie Haiku and More From the Undead

A sample page from Zombie Haiku (How Books)

The first book that caught my eye was Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum. How can you possibly resist a book called Zombie Haiku ? Plus I found it on Valentine's Day, which made it seem all the more appropriate for some reason. On the cover were three scrawled haiku poems:

Biting into heads
Is much harder than it looks.
The skull is feisty.

Nothing hurts me now.
Normally the screwdriver
Wouldn't have gone there

You are so lucky
That I cannot remember
How to use doorknobs

With that the book charmed me. The verses captured the perverse appeal of zombies - they are somehow both dumb and sweet. They stare out from vacant eyes but seem vaguely haunted by memories of what it was like to be human. Mecum's haiku captures that. And that was just the cover. He also refreshes the zombie genre with a clever perspective and approach. The book is a journal of haiku on blood-splattered pages chronicling the early days of the zombie plague. The verses tell the story of one man who witnesses the beginning of the zombie infection and then becomes a zombie himself. It's a rare tale from a zombie's point of view. Take this intriguing verse:

Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains
Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains
Artificial hip?

This book is an absolute must-have for any zombie fan. There's even a dedication at the end from the author to George A. Romero - the godfather of all things zombie - "To George Romero - Because of you I'm screwed up. Thanks for your movies." And that raises another point: zombie fiction is heavily influenced by zombie films. I can't think of any other genre of writing that seems to draw so much of its lore and style from film. Without Romero's films zombie literature might not exist or it might be very different. The style and humor of Zombie Haiku also inspires me to put it on my shelf next to Bigfoot's autobiography, In Me Own Words .Of interest as well are links for z ombie haiku by famous poets and the author's MySpace page .

My son scanned through the books and selected two to read: The Morningstar Strain: Plague of the Dead by Z. A. Recht and The Undead: Headshot Quartet, Four Novellas by D. L. Snell, John Sunseri, Ryan C. Thomas, and David Dunwoody . I was pleased by the Plague of the Dead pick because it bore the dedication: "To Ben. You should have lived. And to Barbara. They are still coming to get you." The homage to Romero's Night of the Living Dead made me smile. The book is the first of a proposed three-part saga that looks to a new virus that rises from deep within Africa. The virus consumes all in its path with victims seeking out the uninfected. The other two books are Thunder and Ashes , and Survivors (not out yet). Plague of the Dead is also written as a journal with occasional email exchanges.

As with Plague of the Dead, Headshot Quartet comes from Permuted Press (which proclaims "The formula has been changed... Shifted... Altered... Twisted"). The book is the fourth in a series of anthologies from Permuted Press, which claims to specialize in apocalyptic and zombie fiction. How cool! This latest volume includes:

Million Dollar Money Shot about a mobster on the run who also has to cope with a zombie apocalypse.

Enemy Unseen returns zombies to their voodoo roots and has the walking dead being used as puppets for terrorists.

Lost Souls offers a kind of Evil Dead tale with a group of kids encountering a demonic supernatural force.

Mortal Gods mixes some diverse elements - from Romero to the X-men to Nightmare on Elm Street - to prompt the reader to question reality.

There's quite a lot more zombie literature out there using zombies as a metaphor and as a classic horror device. So if you've been enamored of the zombie movie genre you might want to branch out to sample some undead literature.

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