Liv­ing with the Liv­ing Dead: The Wis­dom of the Zom­bie Apoca­lypse

Greg Gar­rett

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Oxford Univer­sity Press Hard­cover $24.95 (272pp) 978-0-19-026045-3 With its vo­ra­cious ap­petite for pop cul­ture, Gar­rett’s book is a great re­minder that there’s more to life than just be­ing alive.

Gut-wrench­ing, stom­ach-churn­ing, and mind-bog­gling, zom­bies are a per­fect me­taphor for many as­pects of mod­ern life. Don’t agree? Au­thor Greg Gar­rett makes a com­pelling ar­gu­ment for the un­dead in his new book Liv­ing With The Liv­ing Dead: The Wis­dom of the Zom­bie Apoca­lypse.

Gar­rett’s tone is both aca­demic and play­ful. He’s per­son­able, and fre­quently funny, even when dis­cussing flesh-eat­ing mon­sters. Liv­ing With The Liv­ing Dead is essen­tially an ex­tended con­ver­sa­tion with a fa­vorite, nerdy friend that ranges all over pop cul­ture.

Om­niv­o­rously re­searched, Gar­rett’s book in­cludes ref­er­ences to Cor­mac Mccarthy, Dawn of the Dead and its re­make, Game of Thrones, and the New Tes­ta­ment, among oth­ers. Zom­bies, it seems, are ev­ery­where, and the “zom­bie apoca­lypse” nar­ra­tive is the per­fect me­taphor for life as we know it to­day: tran­si­tion­ing “from one state to the other, a move­ment so shock­ing that we of­ten stand … mouths wide open, si­mul­ta­ne­ously marveling and hor­ri­fied at the changes tak­ing place.” Gar­rett’s writ­ing is as mes­mer­iz­ing, and as he fleshes out his case, draw­ing new con­nec­tions, Liv­ing With The Liv­ing Dead be­comes im­pos­si­ble to put down.

Liv­ing With The Liv­ing Dead strad­dles the line be­tween aca­demic and pop­u­lar non­fic­tion writ­ing. Although the book draws nat­u­ral com­par­isons to Mary Roach’s non­fic­tion, or even Michael Pol­lan’s, Gar­rett’s tone is at times too for­mal, even when he’s writ­ing in the first per­son. Weav­ing in per­sonal sto­ries about his time as a hos­pi­tal chap­lain and his ini­tial im­pres­sions of the nov­els, films, and shows he ref­er­ences soft­ens this some­what and makes the book more

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