“The crisis created by an outbreak of the walking dead offers a telling diagnostic of those flaws in the human condition that resurface, century upon century: our tendency to let problems fester untended until they become crises, our frequent inability to work together for a common good, our quickness to forget the lessons our grandparents learned at the cost of much sweat and blood, and the extent to which our privileged classes ignore and deny responsibility for the plight of the impoverished and the disinherited.”
When I first heard about The Zombie Bible, my brain was flooded with a cacophony of thoughts.
1. Is this going to be another unnecessary Bible “translation” like the LOL Cat Bible or the Conservative Bible?
2. Is this going to cause Fred Phelps to visit Stant Litore carrying “God Hates Zombies” signs?
3. This isn’t this Zombie Bible is it?
4. Do we really need more zombie stories?
Intrigued, I downloaded Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, and settled in with my Kindle and some hot chocolate. Whatever I had been expecting, this was not it.
From page one, I was greeted with intelligent, eloquent, academic prose. The tale begins with a note, ostensibly from a historian, giving readers some background of the rise and fall of the zombies. It is here that we learn what it is about zombies that fascinates us so—they reflect the worst of ourselves, that thing inside us we are afraid to face. After a lengthy but necessary introduction, the story begins in proper. Death Has Come up Into Our Windows is based on The Old Testament events of Jeremiah 38, where the prophet Jeremiah is thrown into a well for warning the King of the impending fall of Jerusalem. Kings, it seems are so caught in their own hubris, any hint of impending doom is taken as blasphemy, treason, or both. And so it is, that Stant Litore’s telling of the tale finds our protagonist, Yirmiyahu (the Hebrew, non-Anglicized version of the name Jeremiah) tossed into a mud filled well where he is forced to wrestle the undead for the amusement of the king’s guards. Clearly, this is not a line by line retelling of the Old Testament story, rather a retelling based loosely on the biblical account.
What really drew me into this story is that (like most well-told zombie tales) it is not a story about the walking undead, but a story about humanity. That is not to say it is a zombie story missing zombie gore, for there is gore in abundance; however, there is not gore for the sake of including some blood and guts. Instead, we are presented with a world where we are forced to question exactly who is the antagonist—is it the shambling undead, hungry for flesh or is it the living humans who have created this problem due to their own inequities?
While in the well, Yirmiyahu has time to ponder his life, to reflect on his own shortcomings, to battle his faltering faith, and to reflect on what his society has become. Far from the typical brainless (see what I did there?) zombie fare that is in excess these days, Stant Litore has presented his readers a well-written philosophical dilemma wrapped in zombie paper. The result is a mash up of literary fiction and zombie action. This story deals with very real human issues in a smart and sensitive manner and forces readers to look inward while also entertaining the hell out of them. Fans of zombies will not be disappointed by Death Has Come up Into Our Windows, but it is also an excellent entry point for those new to the genre. I am glad that I took a chance on this story and am looking forward to more from Stant Litore.
And, in case you’re wondering, the answers to my cacophony of questions are:
1. No. But, the LOL Cat Bible is a fun way to kill time waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
2. Maybe, Fred Phelps & the crew do enjoy a good sign waving.
3. Thankfully no, not at all, not even a little.
4. Of course we do, why would I doubt this?