Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse

Greg Garrett. Oxford Univ., $24.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-19-026045-3
Referring to the ubiquitous zombie apocalypse of fiction and film as a “dominant twenty-first century narrative,” Garrett (Entertaining Judgment) argues persuasively that contemporary popular fascination with stories of the living dead reflects our interest in pondering what it means to be human. The four chapters in his book proceed from a consideration of the correspondence between the living dead and the living—zombification serves as a metaphor for everything from the routinization of repetitive tasks that we perform in daily life to the disruption of daily life in terrorist attacks that threaten life and limb. He discusses the responses through which the living distinguish themselves from the living dead: the formation of communities with a common purpose and the moral and ethical choices people make to affirm their humanity in the face of an inhuman menace. Garrett’s primary sources are the films of George Romero, The Walking Dead TV series, and the other zombie-themed narratives that have glutted our popular culture for the past half century, and he quotes as informatively from them as he does from the work of Alain de Botton, Reinhold Niebuhr, and St. Augustine when framing his philosophical observations. Garrett’s accessible and insightful inquiry into our zombie zeitgeist finds surprising depth in a theme usually dismissed as simple entertainment. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
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