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Observe Zombie Awareness Month. Read This Book.

May 7, 2012 by Reader's Connection

City of the LostA colleague sent out a notice that it was Zombie Awareness Month, and it occurred to me that I’ve never written a post on this theme, despite the fact that zombie novels are a vital (wrong word) part of our fiction collection.

Stephen Blackmoore’s City of the Lost is set in Los Angeles. (Get it? City of the Lost instead of City of the Angels?) Our story-teller is Joe Sunday, a thug for hire who becomes undead. He had already murdered people, in his professional capacity, but now he’s likely to eat their hearts.

I liked the idea that the mean streets of L.A. would be walked by a zombie, rather than by a detective like Philip Marlowe or Lew Archer. I didn’t like the way the author offhandedly drew the Holocaust into his story.

2666The talk of Auschwitz doesn’t go on for long, and genre writers often use historical events to ground their stories, so I shouldn’t be too hard on Blackmoore. But I had just finished reading Roberto Bolaño´s novel 2666, a visionary tour of the twentieth century, and Blackmoore’s evocation of our past seemed cheap. I set the book aside for the night, halfway finished, figuring I was done with it.

The next morning, to my surprise, I felt some curiosity about how Joe Sunday’s mayhem would sort itself out; and I read the second half. The story moves really quickly, when you consider how many of the characters are dead. An ambiguous ending may indicate that a sequel is in the works.

The Kirkus reviewer, who obviously has more zombie cred than I, calls this A remarkable debut, L.A. noir with eye-bulging refinements . . . A head-shakingly perfect blend of zombie schlock, deadpan wit, startling profanity, desperate improvisation and inventive brilliance.

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