cover image The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire

Daniel Kraus. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (656p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1139-4

In this morbidly fascinating story, first in a two-book saga about a young man who refuses to stay dead, Kraus (Scowler) deconstructs the idea of the bildungsroman. Zebulon Finch is born in Chicago in 1879, murdered in 1896, and inexplicably reanimated 17 minutes later as a walking dead man without the need for food, drink, or sleep. In a verbose, grandiose manner, Zebulon shares the details of his exploits and misadventures over the next few decades, and hundreds of pages. As he endures the life of a traveling sideshow attraction, suffers the horrors of combat during WWI, ekes out a living during Prohibition, and falls prey to the seductive charms of pre-WWII Hollywood, he drops in and out of contact with a motley cast of characters, including his daughter. Zebulon’s lack of motivation leads to a meandering, dismal narrative filled with dire insights into the futility of life and the dark side of human nature, where even the most innocent end up corrupted and ruined. Zebulon himself describes it best when he labels his adventures “a fable without a discernible moral.” Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Oct.) [/em]