Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Copies of Rigor Mortis are available locally

For all your fine Baltimore folks reading about Rigor Mortis in today's City Paper, copies are available locally at Atomic Books, Cyclops Books, and Ukazoo Books.

You can also order via PayPal to

DeadVida and Rigor Mortis Profiled by Bret McCabe in City Paper

Grave Concerns:
Zine Rigor Mortis explores what we talk about when we talk about zombies

“I think because they scared me,” zine publisher Davida Gypsy Breier says, explaining an interest in zombies that turned into her collaborative zombie zine Rigor Mortis two years back. “They’re still scary and it was good to be scared by something that wasn’t real. There’s almost something cathartic to let all of that anxiety out in something that—hey, cut-rate therapy, whatever you want to call it—but it was something that was very scary but it wasn’t actually dealing with the real-life stuff.”

Keep reading...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review: Handling the Undead

I spent the pre-dawn hours this morning trying to digest Handling the Undead. Most zombie lit and movies are really more about fighting death, what it means to be alive, and our base terror of dying. Handling the Dead comes at zombies from a completely different angle. The “reliving” as they are called are limited to a small population in Sweden of people who died in the previous two months. The story is much more about how we as humans are instinctively at conflict between grieving for lost love ones and our innate revulsion of corpses and death. It is also a metaphysical discussion about the nature of souls, Death, and belief systems. Ultimately there are no easy answers and the concepts and characters continued to tumble around in my mind this morning.

Handling the Undead opens with an unexplained atmospheric and electrical disturbances. Soon the recently dead “awaken”. Instead of the dead appearing threatening, they are more like empty shells that are following an instinctive desire to return to their former lives.  This of course is met with fear and chaos.

David’s wife Eva has just been in a car accident and despite massive trauma, and unlike the rest if the dead, retains the power of speech when she returns. He has to deal with his extremely confused grief and also try and explain what has happened to his 9 year old son, Magnus. Mahler was a newspaper reporter before the death of his grandson, Elias. He breaks into the cemetery where the boy was buried two-months previously and steals his desiccated, but reliving, body before the military arrives to collect him. Flora and Elvy, a granddaughter and grandmother,  are surprised when Elva’s recently departed husband returns home in the middle of the night. For Elvy, this is proof of her Christian beliefs and she is sure the Rapture is near. Flora is more a believer in Marilyn Manson and the Resident Evil films and is not so convinced.

The book is really about these characters and how the impact of the reliving hits them emotionally and spiritually.  How Sweden and the world react to these events is smartly limited to short exposition between chapters. How loved ones react to the reliving returning is conflicted. They want to love the person, but the corpse is another matter. Love and revulsion. Also groups of the reliving, and whatever broke in the atmosphere that night, have unexpected side-effects on the living.

Author John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In) does an excellent job creating small moments of real horror that get under your skin. There is minimal gore and the atmosphere of grief is very affecting. He does an excellent job  showing what events such as this would mean to a grieving parent, child, and spouse. This passage in particular got to me:  
But zoom in on one single child and there you hand and upholder of the world. A child with a mother and father, grandparents, relatives and friends. A child whose existence is necessary for the proper functioning of many lives. Children are fragile, and carry so many lives on their frail shoulders. Fragile is their world, controlled by adults. Everything is fragile.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to the genre and I loved the original take on the concept of zombies. My only criticism would be the ending. It felt like it needed something more. Even a simple epilogue acknowledging some of the loose ends. There were too many unanswered questions. Some characters got closure and some didn’t. Normally I would have no problem with that, but in this case it felt like they should have at least been acknowledged. The final scene with Elias and his mother is haunting. 

Handling the Undead
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pub Date: (September 28, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0312605254