Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is at the centre of a zombie outbreak. For now the authorities are coping – just – rounding up the undead and quarantining them. But the imminent hurricane season threatens to unleash mayhem.
As the narrator, Michael, tells his girlfriend: "It's a buffet out there." Still, he risks being bitten to help his best friend look for his father, suspected of falling victim to undeath. There is very little gore in this highly unusual take on the zombie novel. Instead, Bennett Sims delivers a disquisition on the idea of the zombie, combining low and high culture in a firework display of extended metaphors, obscure vocabulary and intellectual sparks. With a heavy debt to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and vigorous nods to Nabokov, Heidegger, Tarkovsky, Shklovsky, Levinas and Proust, to mention a few, the book is ambitious and thought-provoking. Sims displays a positively Will Self-ish love of words (the illuminated head of the man on a "Walk" sign is "syncarpous and starlit, a perfect oval of refulgent drupelets") as he focuses in on the philosophical conundrum of undeath, seemingly yearning for its impossible state that is neither "Being" nor "Nothingness". An existentialist meditation.
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