[Ebook] ➦ Zone One By Colson Whitehead – Lectinshield.co.uk

Zone One chapter 1 Zone One, meaning Zone One, genre Zone One, book cover Zone One, flies Zone One, Zone One 49cd797c7d1a0 In This Wry Take On The Post Apocalyptic Horror Novel, A Pandemic Has Devastated The Planet The Plague Has Sorted Humanity Into Two Types The Uninfected And The Infected, The Living And The Living Dead Now The Plague Is Receding, And Americans Are Busy Rebuild Ing Civilization Under Orders From The Provisional Govern Ment Based In Buffalo Their Top Mission The Resettlement Of Manhattan Armed Forces Have Successfully Reclaimed The Island South Of Canal Street Aka Zone One But Pockets Of Plague Ridden Squatters Remain While The Army Has Eliminated The Most Dangerous Of The Infected, Teams Of Civilian Volunteers Are Tasked With Clearing Out A Innocuous Variety The Malfunctioning Stragglers, Who Exist In A Catatonic State, Transfixed By Their Former Lives Mark Spitz Is A Member Of One Of The Civilian Teams Work Ing In Lower Manhattan Alternating Between Flashbacks Of Spitz S Desperate Fight For Survival During The Worst Of The Outbreak And His Present Narrative, The Novel Unfolds Over Three Surreal Days, As It Depicts The Mundane Mission Of Straggler Removal, The Rigors Of Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, And The Impossible Job Of Coming To Grips With The Fallen World And Then Things Start To Go Wrong Both Spine Chilling And Playfully Cerebral, Zone One Bril Liantly Subverts The Genre S Conventions And Deconstructs The Zombie Myth For The Twenty First Century

10 thoughts on “Zone One

  1. says:

    Attractive, well dressed writing and some buxom, sexy phrase turning make this novel s surface shiny and pretty However, its hollowness, lack of depth and monotone emotionlessness make the interior a soulless, vacuous fail It s prose porn with no emotional money shot, and like traditional porn Zone One dispenses with plot, character and any hint of deeper meaning in favor of excessive, gratuitous word humping The language is technically proficient and has an appealing shape, but inside is shallow, detached and mechanical Just like an adult film star while on screen Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.It s literature with none of the heart and emotional depth that make the good stuff stick to your soul and nest inside your memory The emperor is well spoken but naked When I first started reading this, I was jazzed by the language Whitehead can spin a sentence and has a comfortable familiarity with the English language For example, early on in this literary zombie novel the reader is introduced to Mark Spitz, our narrator, who is described as the quintessential everyman always existing in the middle of the pack He nailed milestone after developmental milestone, as if every twitch were coached Had they been aware of his location, child behaviorists would have cherished him, observing him through binoculars and scratching their ledgers as he confirmed their data and theories in his anonymous travails He was their typical, he was their most, he was their average receiving hearty thumbs up from the gents in the black van parked a discreet distance across the street. I like that It has a slickness to it that I found enjoyable In addition, there s a fun layering of pop consumer excoriation and decrying the disconnectedness of people to their fellow man This was easily my favorite part of the novel and I was reminded of Ellison s American Psycho This was a very good start for me because I am a promiscuous word whore and I love lyrical language Nothing heats up my cockles than masterful phrasing that suavely struts across the page and causes multiple eyegasms on its way into your brain This is why I have such a massive gush on for writers like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and, recently, Umberto Eco and Cormac McCarthy But here s the thingas much as I love lush, musical writing, the pretty packaging of masterful prose isn t, ultimately, what makes my happy rise It s the combination of the ability to eye hug with fulgurant writing while ratcheting my heart up into my throat with characters and story Or, in McCarthy s case, ripping my heart into bloody chunks of useless muscle. Good novels should makeyoufeelsomething One of literature great virtues is being able to stun us with the lyrical, wondrous descriptions while using the prose as a clandestine delivery system for revealing a truth intended to resonate within us It doesn t have to be happy truth filled with teddy bears It can be deeply unpleasant and make you cringe with despair that life is an untethered, meaningless exercise in futility yes, I m looking at you Kafka .Basically, I am saying that pretty words are not enough and books should have a purpose e.g., tell an entertaining or important story, express a feeling or share a truth I found none of that here Nada Zilch This book felt like a corpse At times, a jaw droppingly beautiful corpse, but still a cadaver Even looking at genre fiction gasp say the literary snobs as they try to look down over their upturned noses , I can list many authors like Catherynne Valente, Guy Gavriel Kay, Don Winslow and Tim Powers who are marvelous wordsmiths and use their polished writing to entertain, enlighten and or tell a compelling storywith characters that do things and make you care There were no characters to care about in this novel Here comes the worst knickers twisting negative of the whole novel for me I found the writing not only insubstantial and 100% style, but also intentionally pretentious It felt snobbish It didn t feel like Whitehead was trying to dazzle and amaze a virtue in my opinion so much as to impress and self aggrandize It felt like Whitehead had decided to slum it in the ghetto of zombie fiction and didn t want to get shit on his shoes Literary pretentiousness and elitism is a major bugaboo with me and the fastest way to turn me off of a novel This was a classic case in point So, overall, while there was some terrific, enjoyable prose, I found nothing else in this novel to go gaga over Add to that the major turn off mentioned above and I can t bring myself to go higher than 2 stars That said, given my love of language and prose, I may revisit this at some point down the line to see if I might have missed something over the irritating din of pompousness 2.0 stars.

  2. says:

    AHHHHHHHH jesus christ, but colson whitehead can write i read the intuitionist way back when everyone was praising it to the moon as the masterpiece of the next great american writer, but that book didn t really do a lot for me, while this one keel hauled me it was strolling along at a solid four stars until the ending, which just reached in between my ribs with insistent fingers and squeezed and squeezed and squeezed the last 100 pages or so just blew me away and it s not even a long book, 259 pages, but it took me three days to read partly circumstantial, partly because unpacking his sentences takes a really long time this man is the master of the dense sentence and also at creating these descriptive arabesques of imaginative digression speculations about characters that do not exist in the novel as such, but are representative of a type of person who might still be existing in this post infestation world and what that type of person might be doing, thinking, even though they are only a subjunctive character in a three sentence authorial daydream who bothers to do that it is madness but a madness that stands out as a truly original technique of an incredible writer.this is both not at all a zombie book and the purest zombie book i have ever read it is so hard to describe it i am going to have to read it again, because circumstances muddied up the first half of the book for me a little part of that is that i really feel this book should be read with as few breaks in the reading as possible there are so many details, many of whose significance do not become apparent until much later it is best to read with full attention, in as straight a sitting as you can manage ceridwen s review is probably the best review i have ever read not just for this book, but ever i would love to review her review, but i don t think i am even savvy enough to articulate how perfect that review is, never mind trying to discuss this book i love this part best Then there is the New Yorkiness of this book, a resident recounting his mixed irritation and affection for the cityest of American cities, carefully prodding nostalgia that at any moment might stir and bite And when it does, put it down with a bullet. that is a perfect encapsulation of this book whitehead takes the danny hoch stance of gee, new york brooklyn, for hoch is really changing and ramps it up with fury and yet it is new york, and always will be, no matter how many trust fund babies move in, no matter how many buildings have their outsides gentrified or mirrored, no matter how many zombies cross over into it from new jersey whitehead s final panning shot of the zombies is a masterful and familiar descriptive passage, despite being utterly horrifying this is new york, warts and all.it s a very emotional book, despite a main character who is a bundle of instinctual calculations than emotions even before the events, he is someone who carefully gauges what he can get away with, what he can do to pass through life with the least resistance, rather than someone who is experiencing life as a series of emotional occurrences a coaster so, in many ways, the perfect observer, the perfect survivor and yet the surroundings are definitely meant to inspire an emotional response, even to non new yorkers new york is a microcosm to the world, after all, the corroded melting pot and this situation, eyeballed by this character the extraordinary translated by the mediocre is made all the haunting for it.now i understand the whitehead hype.aside i was actually in tribeca on tuesday, where the action of this novel takes place, and i could not help superimposing the narrative upon the scenery the nearness to halloween didn t hurt matters but yeah, a terrible part of town to try to withstand a zombie apocalypse and, to ceridwen, i understand your bristling at the midwest barb there was a little one for queens, too why i oughtta come to my blog

  3. says:

    Oh dear Is it possible to make flesh hungering zombies seem dull While I never thought so, AMC and Whitehead have both been giving it their all by enveloping them in navel gazing Philosophy 101 monologues and odd series of pastoral flashbacks in the midst of life or death situations Whitehead, at least, delivers his philosophy with amazing prose, while the writers at The Walking Dead season two rely on repetition of words like humanity times than Hobbes could shake a stick at We get it apocalypse stories are essentially about hope how we create meaning in survival and and how we cope with a massive breakdown in society While I m optimistic for The Walking Dead, I ll take a pass on Whitehead s version of humanity this is the Kafka version, where people are roaches or mannequins before transforming into zombies Nihilism at it s most uninspiring.As I began Zone One, I started falling in love with the language, the clear and exacting prose Whitehead uses to describe everything from technology to buildings As I read on, it became apparent that while Whitehead can turn an apt phrase, he has no love or passion for his story this is a chronicle of decay, both before and after the plague apocalypse There is little in Zone One for the fans of action and plotting, and only the barest of character development Instead, we are given ink sketches in broad frames, all the better to hang the dirty laundry of Whitehead s social commentary The setting is conventional plague apocalypse something starts transforming people, it spreads before awareness of infection, and society melts like a wet tissue, except for small encampments of people The plot centers on teams sent out to cleanse New York City of the remaining dead once the Marines have swept through The narrator is an Everyman, nameless until christened by his teammates, who relives his memories as he scours the city for zombies Darkness begins on the very first page when we read the camera was so backward that every lurching specimen his father enlisted from the passersby was able to operate it sans hassle, no matter the depth of cow eyed vacancy in their tourist faces or local wretchedness inverting their spines Descriptions of people before the plague strangely resemble those of people after, and it s not because of compassion for the zombies Right there, I knew the level of disdain for the father, the mediocre, the simple, even for humanity Every word is selected with care, conveying decay and blight Photos are culled for an album The buildings of pre plague New York aggressively collided, they humiliated runts through verticality and ambition, sulked in one another s shadows When they are redeveloped, their insides were butchered, reconfigured, rewired according to the next era s new theories of utility sweatshop killing floor into cordoned cubicle mill The disdain carries over into people, especially lawyers If you d asked him about his plans the answer would have come easily lawyering He was berefit of attractive propositions, constitutionally unaccustomed for enthusiasm, and generally malleable Hence, law Likewise, design firms, receptionists, number crunching bureaucrats, fast food friers, soldiers none are spared from the scathing voyeuristic lens Living characters are suspiciously similar to zombies Gary, on Mark s team has fingernails which were seemingly constructed of grime as if he had clawed out of a coffin, and Kaitlyn, the leader, is a clear grade grubber before the disaster maintain ing a grade grubbing continuum Even people at the camps Everyone he saw walked around with a psychological limp the all over crumpling, as if the soul were imploding or the mind sucking the extremities into itself This is one of those books that destroys Goodreads rating system Technically brilliant, structurally competent and ultimately both cynically distancing and ironic, it lacks the heart and characters that truly engage me on a deeper level Two stars for personal enjoyment, problems with world building which, in fairness, I believe weren t meant to be resolved as it is meant as a metaphorical tale , four stars for deft use of language and general conception, and one star for it s dim view of human nature.Cross posted at

  4. says:

    Start spreading the news I m leaving today There is a lot to sink your teeth into in the latest book from MacArthur Genius grantee Colson Whitehead The nation has pretty much collapsed, with the implication that things are no better elsewhere in the world But there is still some hope A provisional government has been set up in Buffalo, and some organization is returning The government wants to clear Manhattan of undesirables, in order to repopulate, in order to show that there is a future, that there is hope Mark Spitz, a nom de guerre, is a sweeper There are zombies and mindless survivors still hanging out and Omega Unit is charged with clearing out a specific geographic area inside Zone One, the real estate below Manhattan s Canal Street, where a wall has been built to keep out the deadbeats I suppose one might call the area R EbeCa Manderley had nothing on this place Over three days we get Spitz s story and that of some others as well Do you remember where you were on 9 11 Do you recall what was happening when shots were fired that took out JFK, RFK, MLK Maybe you have been around long enough to remember a day which will live in infamy For the characters in Colson Whitehead s latest novel, Zone One, the event is called Last Night It was the moment it became clear that a zombie apocalypse plague had run amok Fight or flight Time to wonder if your loved ones had succumbed and decision time re whether you would risk your life to try saving or finding them One of the major elements in this book is the characters recollections of that fateful night From Colsonwhitehead.comThe largest element is the city itself, well, Manhattan, and even focused, Manhattan below Canal Street Whitehead loves New York He is the author of The Colossus of New York, a love song to the city, and one of my all time favorite books I grew up in New York in the 70s and so I took films like The Warriors and Escape from New York as documentaries Other kids did sports I liked to hang around watching The Twilight Zone and various movies about the end of the world, whether it was Planet of the Apes, or Damnation Alley And so that s part of the city I carry with me from my childhood In doing this book, I was trying to pay homage to certain cinematic depictions of a ruined New York From NPR interview CW did not have a lot of trouble imagining NYC as a wasteland, noting that in the wee hours parts of the city that never sleeps are remarkably unoccupied, desolate Wall Street is completely empty All the buildings are closed and no one s on the street It s as empty as it s described in the book He also remembers growing up in the 1970s, a pretty tough time for the city, with the boom in drug use, the loss of revenue as a result of white flight, and the federal government telling us to go to hell That s a pretty good start for building an apocalyptic landscape He sees the accretion of the new atop the old, the replacement of the current with the new, then the replacement of the new with the newer I m walking around with my idea of what New York was 30 years ago, 20 years ago So is everybody else And we superimpose that ruined city over what s here now So it s cleaned up, but we re still seeing that old shoe store, dry cleaners, that old apartment where we used to live So, any street you walk down in New York is a heap of rubble because that s sort of how we see it if we ve been here a while I can relate I moved from the Bronx to Manhattan in 1972, shared an apartment on the Upper West Side before it became an unaffordable yuppie apocalypse zone I was on 81st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam On one end of the block was a notorious SRO, and the other featured Davey s Tavern, notable for the lineup of pimp mobiles up the street One night some pals and I decided to follow a trail of blood that led from Davey s a few blocks east into Central Park, before re attaching our brains and desisting It was widely assumed that landlords were having their properties torched to evict the current residents and get insurance money with which to re build, renovate and return to business with rentals several multiples of what they had been So it is quite understandable how one could take the reality of that era and build on it to flesh out a flesh eating landscape Whitehead is also well aware of the city s life sucking potential Was this skel a native New Yorker, or had it been lured here by the high jinks of a TV personality and her colorful roommates One of those seekers powerless before the seduction of the impossible apartment that the gang inexplicably afforded on their shit job salaries, unable to resist the scalpel carved and well abraded faces of the guest stars the characters smooched in one shot appearances or across multi episode arcs Struck dumb by the dazzling stock footage of the city avenues at teeming evening Did it work, the hairdo, the bleached teeth, the calculated injections, did it transform the country rube into the cosmopolitan Mold their faces to the prevailing grimace There are plenty of folks who might pass for undead in the city, even now the city had long carried its own plague Its infection had converted this creature into a member of its bygone loser cadre, into another one of the broke and the deluded, the mis fitting, the inveterate unlucky They tottered out of single room occupancies or peeled themselves off the depleted relative s pullout couch and stumbled into the sunlight for miserable adventures He had seen them slowly make their way up the sidewalks in their woe, nurse an over creamed cup of coffee at the corner greasy spoon in between health department crackdowns This creature before them was the man on the bus no one sat next to, the haggard mystic screeching verdicts on the crowded subway car, the thing the new arrivals swore they d never become but of course some of them did It was a matter of percentages.It cannot be a coincidence that in CW s future Manhattan the powerless are being driven out of prime real estate by force, so the lucky can take their places It s called gentrification, and has been going on, under that name anyway, since the 70s There are plenty of landlords who would like nothing than to have armed groups evict anyone not paying market rates, so they could bring in new prey to gouge No zombie apocalypse needed for that It is extant reality here CW does not expect that, whatever disaster may arrive, those at the extremes of the human bell curve will be the likely remnants In the apocalypse, I think those average, mediocre folks are the ones who are going to live, he says I think the A pluses will probably snuff themselves The C minus personalities will probably be killed off very quickly But it s the mediocre folks that will become the heroes Anyone who survives will be a hero From an NPR interview Thus Mark Spitz is, by design, the ultimate average guy.There is particular poignance for this native in scenes of a zombie crematorium creating mass quantities of gray ash that fall like snow on the city I know CW s city very well I worked and have played in the area called Zone One for many years To see it brought to life in these pages is a remarkable experience for me As if someone had written a biography of your child and got all the facts and feel right, even about the aspects you do not admire Whitehead has a remarkable gift, his writing rich with insight and observational acuity We have seen our share of death in New York, physical and spiritual, from the horror of 9 11 to the siren call of the city, tuned to the young and hopeful, luring so many onto the rocks of not good looking talented smart connected special enough, to the middle aged newly unemployed dazedly going through the motions, even after there is no destination for the trains and their feet to take them to The magic of power, lights, glitter and energy has its dark side, when the lights go out, the sparkle fades and security is no longer up to the task of keeping that which menaces at bay.This is not a story where this happens and then that happens It offers a novel format as a structure within which Whitehead can relate what he has seen and felt about his beloved city And to seriously bitch about Connecticut Dude, did Connecticut shoot your dog If a few characters become fodder for roving people eaters, like so many large hot dogs on the hoof, then so be it If you can t make it there, well, buh bye There are elements of Zone One that reminded me of Gary Shteyngart, and Max Headroom a twenty minutes into the future feel to his social satire Survivors of Last Night are often afflicted with PASD, or Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, pronounced PAST So folks suffering with PASD are said to have a problem with their past, snicker, snicker A remnant coven of lawyers who are looking for actual pounds of flesh Corporate sponsorship is alive and well in the world of the zombie apocalypse with wonderfully cute corporate armadillo logos finding their ways onto a wide range of official items The new national Anthem is Stop Can You Hear the Eagle Roar Theme From Reconstruction Trebly delicious for the Ashcroft ref, the intentional malaprop and the parenthetical ref to far too many contemporary songsThe creature feature is a means to an end for Whitehead I ve had the same publisher for six books, and they know it s not just about elevator inspectors, it s not just about zombies it s about people, it s about culture Yeah, it is And as a portrait of New York, it is dead on EXTRA MEATA wonderful interview with the author in The Atlantic, Colson Whitehead on Zombies, Zone One, and His Love of the VCR by Joe FasslerTerry Gross s interview with the author on Fresh Air, A Zone Full Of Zombies In Lower Manhattan, the transcriptThe audio can be heard hereWhitehead s magnum opus well, so far The Underground Railroad

  5. says:

    FRIDAYmark monday got up at his usual hour, in his usual bed, and after leisurely winding his way through his various morning routines, made his way to work, to perform his usual functions it was a friday, a day where most of his colleagues found reasons to be elsewhere appointments and such and so this was mark s favorite work day to be in the office the lack of potential irritation meant work could be accomplished on some level, he realized that this was perhaps a rather uncharitable perspective, and so he actively tried to create positive, supportive relationships with his colleagues to balance out these misanthropic tendencies mark accomplished his various pre set work goals to varying degrees of satisfaction when faced with an annoying email or an unpleasant task, he would sometimes pause to remind himself that he liked his job, it was surely an important one, one that could be seen to help many needy people, one that was mandated by the government, one that afforded him a certain level of both personal self esteem and public influence it was an administrative position.after work, mark went with his boss to a community forum at city hall on federal health care reform scheduled, unpleasantly enough, on a friday evening he used this forum as a reason to avoid attendance at both a going away party for a co worker he was never too partial to that colleague s whininess and a night out of dinner drinks with a former best friend from san diego too many buried resentments that could now, happily, go unearthed the individuals on the forum s panel said their various rote statements and everyone performed their necessary functions in their role that evening afterwards, mark monday went home and started reading Zone One by Colson Whitehead.the novel takes place after a zombie apocalypse, as the world attempts to rebuild itself the protagonist, Mark Spitz, is a member of Omega Unit, which is one of many civilian units charged with the clean up of nyc, moving street by street and building by building to find and dispose of any remaining stragglers not wiped out by prior military incursions zombies come in two forms 99% are skels , your basic ravening zombie, hungry for flesh 1% are stragglers , a revenant that is usually harmless, found hovering aimlessly in places that once held meaning for them their office their usual restaurant the elevator where they spontaneously proposed marriage the field where they flew their first kite stragglers cling to their old lives, their old roles, they remain somehow connected to what once personally defined them Mark Spitz finds this haunting of old places to be both sad and predictable he muses constantly on the roles that people give themselves, the way that they define themselves, the places they give value and the meaning of that value mark monday found these ruminations to be interesting but rather missed the excitement of an old fashioned tale of zombies running amuck he wasn t sure that this was the book that he wanted to read at 1 30 in the morning on a friday night still, he stuck with it as Mark Spitz pondered the meaning behind humanity s self built mouse mazes and humankind s need to adopt roles that give them purpose, mark monday idly reflected on the rather ineffable sadness of those roles as if they could somehow give a person genuinely deep satisfaction, as if mankind wasn t actually composed of players in a play that has been long written, as if that play won t simply be played again and again, with different players, an updated script.at the end of the novel s first part entitled Friday , Mark Spitz bunks down with his Omega Unit partners, broods on his empty and mediocre pre zombie apocalypse existence, and goes to sleep mark monday finished the chapter, desultorily jacked off to a fantasy template, and went to sleep.SATURDAYmark slept in, per usual on a Saturday, had his usual food and put on his usual attire, and went to the park it was a reasonably nice day for san francisco and the park was full of people doing their usual thing enjoying the weather, talking, laughing, reading, sleeping, working on their laptops and talking on their cell phones mark did the same he made a few phone calls and so enacted his various roles as son, brother, friend, former lover, and or support system he read Zone One from time to time, where Mark walked down his memory s corridors an unfulfilling life of mediocrity, his parents already turned zombie pre zombie apocalypse, then running from the onslaught of the undead, surviving, finding other survivors and yet never connecting with them, always erecting barriers to hide himself, never feeling, rarely loving, a life on the run much like his former life standing in place, in safety mark found himself growing bored and then frustrated with Mark s navel gazing it was perhaps the wrong book to bring to the park, too mordant, too contemplative, too jaded about the guises that humans adopt to comfort themselves, to make themselves feel whole mark started feeling contempt towards Mark he began to grow bored with his company he began to wonder why literary author Colson Whitehead would bother writing a genre novel if all he was going to do was put his various tedious digressions to page, if he wasn t going to bother with an exciting narrative, if all he thought about humanity could be summarized in two words eternal emptiness such a person could be convicted on pretentiousness alone, thought mark it is as if he is holding himself hostage to his own inner void.back at home, mark monday contemplated what he would do for the evening there was a dinner party that his old high school friends were having, but the idea of yet again being the life of the party, the person who made salty comments and saucy innuendos, their funny strange idiosyncratic friend well, the idea of that role fatigued him he could call up his real friends that was the role in which he had cast them , try to do something fun he supposed, some drinking, some talking about the various challenges of being a teacher lawyer carpenter social worker mother father husband wife, some gossip about who said what to whom and why but in the end, that felt rather like work there was also a benefit that a sister agency was having, it would be good to be seen there, to hobnob amongst his peers, to blather some bullshit with politicians and stakeholders, to talk about his job and the importance of this or that piece of legislation but he quickly rejected that off hand he d play that role on monday, this was his weekend so instead he chose to do what he often preferred to do in general these days he stayed at home and read, free of troublesome engagement, free of the need to perform certain functions in the usual way, with the usual people.in Zone One, Mark Spitz and his colleagues holed up in various locations and discussed their different paths in life, how those paths led them to where they were now Mark contemplated the connection he had to his unit and the inevitability of that connection coming to a close he did not feel sadness he did not feel happiness he did not feel anger he did not feel regret was he some form of straggler mark monday felt a flash of sympathy, empathy even, at the idea of Mark Spitz s feelings of hollowness, his self designation as a person of mediocrity Mark was a kind of zombie himself, mark supposed perhaps everyone was a kind of zombie perhaps lack of affect, constant anomie, a relentless repetition of meaningless form and ritual were hallmarks of all kinds of humanity, both living and undead mark wondered, is that a deep thought deep thoughts annoyed him, and he quickly dismissed it Colson Whitehead was proving to be a somewhat aggravating author and mark dismissed him as well just a few pages and then to bed, i ll finish this crap tomorrow, thought mark.in the last few pages of the second part of the novel entitled Saturday , Mark Spitz drinks both in the present time and in flashback, as he enjoys some RR and contemplates his now dead former supervisor what role did that lieutenant fill in his own life what lack of satisfaction drove him to his final actions Mark shed no tears mark had a whiskey Here s To You, Mark , shed no tears, went to bed, and remembered none of his dreams.SUNDAYmark woke up unusually early and read the final part of Zone One entitled Sunday destruction, death, and dangerous disarray riddled the final pages, and yet it was not a travelogue of horror but rather a guide to the hazards of connection and the importance of exit plans that can extract a person from unhealthy human and inhuman attachments Mark Spitz realizes that as a mediocre person, he is ideally suited to surviving the zombie apocalypse he does his best for his colleagues, but there is little to do he reflects on the transitory nature of all relationships as he thinks of the people in his life who have disappeared, of a makeshift family in which he was briefly a part, before it was torn asunder he remembers that last person he loved, now gone from him forever, and was that really even love Mark then runs mark closed the book and thought about how he would write that book s review then he dressed in his usual clothes, went for his usual walk, stopped at his usual bookstore, and shopped at his usual grocery store he went home and made some phone calls, enacting his usual roles, this time as friend to one and son to another he answered a text message notifying him of an acquaintance s accident with the rotely sympathetic language of a typical sensitive human male he watched an episode of Breaking Bad, and wondered at how Mr White got himself into such a situation, contemplated the chain of events that had led the character to his new role in life he watched the premiere of Dexter, gained some pleasure at watching Dex enact his role as bloody avenger, and grew annoyed at the character s insistence that he was a person without affect oh please, mark thought, that s bullshit i have as much affect as Dexter, and i m no serial killer mark reviewed his work calendar in advance of tomorrow s work role and wrote a navel gazing review, per usual mark brushed his teeth and then went to sleep.

  6. says:

    Damn, this book is cold Like, really, really, C O L D The language is magnificent there is no doubt Whitehead can write, but he writes with no heat His writing here is like a perfect, shiny new Cadillac but with no engine Without the engine, what s the point You can sit and look pretty all the live long day, but you re not gonna get anywhere worth talking about or remembering Whitehead s problem here seems to be that he gets so caught up in delivering the goods on literary stylistics and gymnastics that the story what little there is limps anemically along side by side with underdeveloped, emotionless characters While there may indeed be a method to his madness, I m not biting, because for me story trumps EVERYTHING If you ain t got a story to tell, what the hell are you doing writing a novel Not once did Zone One grab me by the throat and make me sit up and pay attention I felt like a detached spectator, ambivalent, witnessing unfolding events in a clinical matter like the scientist who examines a bug under the microscope Whitehead gets too cerebral mining his material for metaphor and symbols, layering his post apocalyptic landscapes with foreshadowing and poetic images Beautiful yes, but nevertheless soulless and unsatisfying Which brings me back to my original point cold And here I will quote from my review of They Shoot Horses, Don t They It applies here just as well as it did there I hate big ideas insert jazz hands here that don t come wrapped in a gripping story that s going to smack me in the face Story Comes First Always You may be brilliant and have awesome insights into the human condition, but unless you can weave a tale that s going to put me on my ass I don t want to hear about it And I m not helping you along by faking it When Harry Met Sally style pretending you wrote a great novel because I m keen to wax poetic on how the world is shit and then we die But that s just me.If you want a literary zombie novel that will put you on your ass, read The Reapers Are the Angels That book is everything this book is not Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things That was where they were now The world wasn t ending it had ended and now they were in the new place They could not recognize it because they had never seen it before

  7. says:

    When the zombie apocalypse comes there ll be a lot of inconveniences The breakdown of society, lack of electrical power, no hot showers and undead cannibals trying to eat your brains will definitely suck, but I always figured that the trade off was that at least there d be no paying bills, standing in line at the DMV or having to tolerate corporate buzz words and slogans But in Zone One not only are there plenty of zombies, there s still silly bureaucratic rules and paperwork as well as a government concerned with public perception than in actually accomplishing anything It s like the worst of everything Mark Spitz a nickname explained late in the book was completely average and his only real talent seemed to be a knack for coasting through life with a minimum of fuss Once the zombie apocalypse comes, Mark Spitz s ability to get by served him well and allowed him to escape the initial zombie outbreak and survive in the aftermath Now Mark Spitz is one of the sweepers assigned to clean up Manhattan The surviving government in Buffalo sent the Marines through to kill the most vicious zombies, but there s a remaining element of stragglers , about 1% of the undead who just return to old homes or jobs and seem vapor locked there as they mindlessly watch blank tv screens or punch buttons on dead copy machines.Buffalo has rebranded the refugee camps of survivors with names like Happy Acres and has a plan to clear and repopulate New York As Mark Spitz spends his days popping and dropping stragglers, he reflects on his aimless days before the zombie outbreak on Last Night and his time as a wandering refugee before he was found by Buffalo s army.This is the first book I m aware of that tries to do the zombie genre as Very Serious Literature No, Pride Prejudice Zombies doesn t count Overall, it succeeds remarkably well Mark Spitz s reflections on pre and post zombie life are intriguing and his melancholy drifting through his days cleaning out Manhattan have the feel of a guy eulogizing an entire world My only complaint is that the memories and current events sometimes get so tangled that it made it a tad confusing at times to figure out where we were in the story of Mark Spitz.On the zombie front, Whitehead delivers some tense and horrific action in the encounters with the undead In fact, Whitehead delivered zombie fightin action and detailed descriptions of the walking dead in 240 pages than Mira Grant has in her two 500 page horror genre novels Read this and take notes, Mira I especially liked the idea that the government in Buffalo has started doing asinine things like issuing orders against the sweepers doing property damage than necessary while clearing buildings and prohibiting looting while also issuing pamphlets about the dangers of zombie post traumatic stress disorder It seems kind of insane at first but after thinking about it a while, I came to the conclusion that it was highly likely that the political image consultants and corporate marketing whizzes would probably, like cockroaches, be the ones to survive a zombie apocalypse and promptly start trying to rebuild the world the only way they know how, conning people into doing shit even if it flies in the face of common sense Great book that elevates the entire horror genre It doesn t take the 1 spot from my favorite zombie novel, World War Z but I think it s got a lock on the 2 spot for now.

  8. says:

    He hooked up with strangers for a while, exchanged a grimy jar of cranberry sauce or a juice box per the new greeting ritual, and swapped information on the big matters of the day, like dead concentrations, and small things like the state of the world A few months into the collapse, only the fools asked about the government, the army, the designated rescue stations, all the unattainable islands, and the fools were dwindling every day He hung with them until they decided on divergent destinations, got into an argument over skel behavior theories or how to spot lurking botulism in a dented can People were invested in the oddest things these days He hung with them until they were attacked and they died and he didn t Sometimes he ditched them because they talked too fucking much.He stopped hooking up with other people once he realized the first thing he did was calculate whether or not he could outrun them Mark Spitz keeps living The end of the world has come and gone and somehow he has survived The zombie apocalypse Those of you who don t read zombie books don t quit reading yet has pared the world down to the core, to the ones that instinctively have found ways to survive There has never been anything special about Spitzuntil now He was a mediocre man He had led a mediocre life exceptional only in the magnitude of its unexceptionality Now the world was mediocre, rendering him perfect He asked himself How can I die I was always like this Now I am me He had the ammo He took them all down Names are unimportant now No one calls themselves by their given name Their full names have disappeared replaced by nicknames or names evoking a nostalgic bit of pop culture When Mark and a couple of his friends are trapped on a bridge by a herd of Skel aggressive zombies his compadres jump in the river to escape He stands and keeps shooting When they ask him later why he didn t jump he said he couldn t swim, but in reality it is because he truly believes he can t die His name was conceived in that moment If you don t remember Mark Spitz here is a link meets a girl named Mim, and even though he knows better he falls in love with her They hole up in a toy store which certainly added a bit of that lost world magic to their burgeoning romance Skull faces had replaced human faces in his mind s population, tight over the bone, staring without mercy, incisors out front The stubborn ordinariness of her soft eyes and round, vigorous features were a souvenir The yellow bandanna tight around her scalp tokened weekend chores, plucking acorns and twigs from the sputtering gutter, scraping last summer s black residue from the grill The ancient rites She was like him, one of the unlikely ones, pushing through, normal She goes out to get pepper and he never sees her again after surviving the bus explosion Annie You re not going to get mushy on me, are you Jack Maybe I might.Annie I hope not, cause you know, relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.Jack Oh yeah Annie Yeah, I ve done extensive study on this From the 1994 movie Speed.Everyone has lost so much that with each new loss it becomes harder to tabulate the true cost any Scars can be picked at, but it is difficult to make them bleed any Some reviewers have noted that the prose comes across as flat I agree I think that is exactly what Colson Whitehead intended This is a survivor s journal I have talked to people who have experienced long term trauma, in a war, with drugs, with disease etc and one thing that usually happens is their eyes harden and their voices flatten out They are achieving distance I ve also talked to people who tell those stories with animation, with the rat tat tat of the machine gun and the Hollywood explosions I wonder if that isn t another way of achieving distance Judge not the dysfunctions of others, lest ye be judged Two of them got the old man down and then all of them were on him like ants who received a chemical telegram about a lollipop on the sidewalk There was no way the old man could get up It was quick They each grabbed a limb or convenient point of purchase while he screamed They began to eat him, and his screaming brought of them teetering down the street All over the world this was happening a group of them hears food at the same time and they twist their bodies in unison, that dumb choreography A cord of blood zipped up out of their huddle, hangin that s how he always recalled it The skels are dangerous, but so are people Messianic people are maybe the most dangerous of all Spitz has finally found a community where it feels like civilization is returning Their idyll was terminated by one of the number Abel, who had developed some theories about the plague and its agenda He was one of those apocalypse as moral hygiene people, with a college sopho socialist slant The dead came to scrub the Earth of capitalism and the vast bourgeois superstructure, with its doilies, helicopter parenting, and streaming video, return us to nature and wholesome communal living No one paid much attention Until he opened the gates, in an act of further purging the earth It might have been apt if he had taken the name Cain Buffalo has emerged as the new capital and after sending the Marines through Manhattan killing skels and wanderers zombies that return to their work or home and stay , they have decided to turn over the rest of the cleanup to contract civilians Spitz volunteers, not because he believes in the job, but because he remembers his uncle s beautiful apartment and wants to see it one time I ll paraphrase Spitz from the first quote above People are invested in the oddest things As they move through the corridors of Wall Street he starts to ennoble the process He was performing an act of mercy These things might have been people he knew, not quites and almost could be s, they were somebody s family and they deserved release from their blood sentence He was an angel of death ushering these things on their stalled journey from this sphere Not a mere exterminator eliminating pests Just as they start to believe they have control of the city Looking down at them through the twisted ash, Mark Spitz shuddered The dead streamed past the building like characters on an electronic ticker in Times Square Close to the ground, almost at their level, he read their human scroll as an argument I was here, I am here now, I have existed, I exist still This is our town Colson Whitehead chowing down while he can You can t see it, but there is a backpack on the seat beside him with all the essentialsjust in case.I ve been pondering why I like to read post apocalyptic books It can be zombies or a threat to our food supply No Blade of Grass or pandemic flu If it is well written I m game to read it I ve been reading this book called Red Mars which didn t really take off for me until the expedition actually lands on Mars and they start building a community They are fighting an internal battle between various factions with different visions for the direction of the colony They are contending with a harsh, unforgiving climate Every day they fall into their bunks absolutely exhausted, but contented with the knowledge that they did something they built something I had an epiphany There must be a yearning in me for the opportunity to do what my ancestors did I have a strange need to carve out a place for myself in the wilderness, or out of chaos I want to pit myself against the elements and figure out a way to survive Luckily I don t need civilization to fall for me to have that experience I can read books like this one, and think about what I would do what would be important to me could I become who I needed to become So we can scoff at the idea of a zombie apocalypse, but really it is just a vehicle for a fine writer like Colson Whitehead to do some intelligent speculating I can place yourself in these worlds For a few hours I can heed the call, try to beat the odds, be relevant, and earn a place among a new set of pioneers who are rebuilding the world in our imagewithout the clutter.

  9. says:

    Find all of my reviews at having my morbidly obese patootey pretty much blown away by The Underground Railroad, I knew Colson Whitehead was an author I wanted to read of When attempting unsuccessfully, natch to get a library copy of Isaac Marion s latest, this one popped up on the sorry we didn t have the fluffy zombie romance you were hoping for, maybe you would like to read a super smart zombie book instead window Zone One is a story many of you have read before Something happened that caused an event now known only as Last Night which created a new population of humans All over the world this was happening a group of them hears food at the same time and they twist their bodies in unison, that dumb choreography In turn another new population was created those known as sweepers This is the story of a sweeper known to his comrades as Mark Spitz Sidenote Although it took about 14 years, the nickname Mark Spitz eventually was explained I was highly disappointed when I found out it wasn t due to him having an awesome pornstache However, to Whitehead s credit, the actual reason was pretty amusing, despite the reaction it would probably garner from some readers view spoiler hide spoiler

  10. says:

    The dead had paid their mortgages on time graduated with admirable GPAs, configured monthly contributions to worthy causes, judiciously apportioned their 401 k s and superimposed the borders of the good school districts on mental maps of their neighborhood, which were often included on the long list when magazines ranked cities with the Best Quality of Life In short, they had been honed and trained so thoroughly by that extinguished world that they were doomed in this new one Zone One is full of colorful melancholy descriptions, of varying levels of cerebral ness, of an ashen, grey Manhattan post plague apocalypse Imagine a world where post apocalypse as moral hygiene, as one character put it A world where, the dead came to scrub the Earth of capitalism and the vast bourgeois superstructure, with its doilies, helicopter parenting, and streaming video, return us to nature and wholesome communal living I d be remiss not to mention completely misleading you if I didn t note that Zone One is not an action novel by any means Really, any reader of Colson Whitehead would probably figure this before even picking this one up from the shelf, so this is really a note for those as yet unfamiliar with his writing style view spoiler There is no real action in this novel so much as there s deliberations, flashbacks, and several run ins some eerie, some semi dramatic, some thought provoking with skels, the dead who are not quite dead hide spoiler

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