A superfluous but entertaining sideline to the current zombie craze that nicely complements Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival...

THE ZOMBIE AUTOPSIES

SECRET NOTEBOOKS FROM THE APOCALYPSE

A neurodevelopmental biologist with the Centers for Disease Control gets down with the sickness when he’s tasked to investigate the roots of a zombie apocalypse.

Lately in pop culture, coverage of zombies has shifted toward the burlesque with movies like Zombieland and novels like S.G. Browne’s Breathers. But usually, authors chase the Max Brooks money, aping his innovative oral history World War Z. Here, Schlozman (Psychiatry/Harvard Univ.) marries his interest in science and the undead to a gruesome but convincing relic from a humanity-killing plague. The book purports to be a copy of the handwritten notes of Dr. Stanley Blum, a scientist tasked to study zombie biology. By this point, the world has been decimated by a new virus—Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome, or ANSD for short. Blum is sent, along with Sarah Johnson, a Scottish specialist in brain infections, and Jose Martinez, the chief forensic pathologist for New York City, to a creepy lab dubbed “the Crypt,” on a small island in the Indian Ocean, in order to dissect the walking dead and record the findings. At first, Blue is chillingly clinical in his notes. “We need to study the hypothalamus, especially as it relates to the rest of the brain structures,” he writes. “This is a primitive region of the brain that, among other things, tells us whether we’ve eaten enough. Zombies never seem to have eaten enough.” But as the horror escalates, even Blum starts to grasp the situation. “We’re dissecting crocodiles…crocodiles that used to be human. We’re dissecting monsters.” It’s a slim volume, but Schlozman weaves a frightening scenario, and horror fans will admire illustrator Sparacio’s grisly drawings of the disease’s progress.

A superfluous but entertaining sideline to the current zombie craze that nicely complements Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide. 

Pub Date: March 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-446-56466-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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