Carl's Reviews > Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by W. Bill Czolgosz
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's review
Jan 17, 10

bookshelves: satire, nonliterature
Read in January, 2010

As someone who has taught Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn more than a dozen times, I am intrigued by this new entry into the skein of reenvisionings (not sure what else to call them) that started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Intrigued, not appreciative.

As an experiment, it was certainly interesting. Czolgosz introduces phthisis as a disease that makes people into zombies, and led to slaves (the "n-word" is not used in this book, after 250-plus controversy-engendering appearances in Twain's original) being freed and replaced as workers by "baggers," the enslaved undead. Hmm. And some baggers are viciously and unredeemably bad and some, "half-baggers", can understand things. Jim is a half-bagger, naturally, but the idea of "freedom" loses its force as the analogy (enslaved zombies : enslaved African-Americans?) stumbles and crumbles after having been suggested in the book's premise.

The substitution of the undead case for historical slavery (and, moreso, the question of how whites should think of African-Americans and the racial situation in the nation) is problematic, to say the least. The second half of the novel devolves wildly, and the end is completely unhinged. It's odd to see how thoroughly and quickly the novel is impoverished of its satirical weight -- and literary value -- by the substitution.

As a novel, pretty bad. But what the heck -- it was a fun thought experiment, for a while!
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