If you like sarcastic wit and dark humor, then you really should consider giving David Sedaris a try. Previously, I had only read a collection of Chri...moreIf you like sarcastic wit and dark humor, then you really should consider giving David Sedaris a try. Previously, I had only read a collection of Christmas essays and stories built to connect with "Santaland Diaries." This was his first book, which is made up of 12 stories and four essays.
The stories are made up of an interesting combination of exaggerated tales such as a speech from an Academy Award winner, a young man who is running through a series of celebrities he may or may not have been involved with, and a number of lifestyle pieces about growing up in odd families in the South. The real humor is meant to come from the outlandish nature of the characters and situations they find themselves in, but this sometimes fall short. Irony is usually playing an important role.
I have to admit that I tend to prefer personal tales when it comes to essays, and this is really a collection of short fictional stories. The characters are often shallow and/or deluded, which is not really my cup of tea. I could see why it would be interesting enough to spur on further writing, and I am glad that Sedaris did so because I have read other things by him and really enjoyed them.
This is a nice look at where he got his start, writing-wise. Just remember that it gets better from there.(less)
Brooks presents himself as a researcher who has been traveling the world in order to interview people and construct an oral history of the war against...moreBrooks presents himself as a researcher who has been traveling the world in order to interview people and construct an oral history of the war against the zombies. It was a war that crippled the planet, sending most of humanity in to tiny sanctuaries before they could be beat back the zombie hoards and regain control of the planet.
The book starts with a chapter that introduces people talking about how the zombie spread throughout the world. In a way, it was not all that different from a disease ... in fact, the world thought it might actually be one, referring to it as African rabies. It proved not to be the case, though. Different countries reacted in different ways, and in most cases, this helped spread the war throughout all of the world through the organ donor black market, denial, and an inability to understand how to fend off the mindless attacks of zombies.
Later chapters focus on how Americans and other countries around the world responded to and started to turn the tide in the war before ultimately winning. Even at the end, there are still zombies walking the planet, but they are controlled.
The real strength of the book is in how Brooks captures a sense of reality. The alternative view of the near future is not at all unrealistic when looking to the evolution of societies in Cuba, which has become an economic superpower thanks to the war; Russia, which has become a nationalistic theocracy; North Korea, which has literally gone underground; and so many other nations around the world. Brooks carefully drew on social histories of these countries to try and predict their responses.
Similarly, he has a real sense of how the modern world responds to the spread of disease, the use of weapons, and even how people react during a disaster as he lets the characters tell their stories of what happened during the war. During the war, characters are represented from all of the major countries as well as a number of Third World ones. There is even a section that deals with how those on the International Space Station responded to what was happening on the planet below.
This really was a great read! While it is definitely a zombie read, I have a feeling that a lot of people who read military thrillers, such as those by Tom Clancy or even Clive Cussler, might find themselves being drawn into the rich writing style and storyline.
The characters really leap off the page in a sense of realistic honesty about what they did during the war. This was a really difficult one to put down!(less)