A permanent sense of dread - the Walking Dead series 2

A permanent sense of dread – the Walking Dead series 2

I find myself thinking about zombies. It is winter here, and a wet one, the south of our country suffering floods that somehow manage to irritate us in the north. We watch as the waters rise towards a Berkshire millionaire’s outside swimming pool, and we note the irony. We remember the night that the Yorkshire coast suffered its worst floods for 50 years (just two months ago), and that it failed to obtain a mention on the national news (though we choose to forget that this was the night Mandela died).

So, here we are, wet and irritated, thinking about zombies.

Alas, poor country

Alas, poor country

Thinking that no one has quite managed to do zombies as well as George Romero in the Night and Day episodes of his epic tetralogy. Thinking that World War Z (the book) is impressive but ultimately disappointing, failing to haul together a central theme that would bring it true substance. And thinking that the much-heralded Zone One, which I am labouring through now, is overwritten and uninvolving. And that the the much-maligned second series of The Walking Dead is in fact by far the best, the tight budgets forcing a focus on the human that creates real drama and tension rather than the schlock thrills of the later series.

Clearly, I have been thinking about zombies a lot.

And thinking what would it be like to write a zombie novel that followed the lead of The Walking Dead series 2, showing real people in the countryside dealing with some catastrophic event that has changed the world for ever? What would it be like to write some of it from a child’s point of view? To write it about the places around us, our homeland, my homeland? Wondering if the genre would cripple the writing, brutalise it with its conventions, or give it a framework within which it could grow and prosper. Wondering if I have the stomach for it – not the gore, but the conflict with the tropes, with the market, the idiom, the title, everything.

And, finally, thinking about what it is that draws me to the undead, the returned. Romero’s films are among the most misanthropic imaginable. We are spiteful crude, uncaring, vain – monstrous in so many ways. By the time he has reached Land of the Dead, Romero has blatantly sided with the zombies. For him, the problem is not the dead, but the living, and perhaps that is the crux of the zombie genre, and ultimately what makes it interesting.

I will return to this subject soon.

Romero's Night of the Living Dead

Romero’s Night of the Living Dead

 

David Quick, Fe 2014

 

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