Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Questionable Shape by Bennett Sims

Two friends look for a zombie

Vermaelen, the philosophical narrator, helps his friend Mazoch search for his father after a zombie outbreak in humid Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, Rachel, Vermaelen’s girlfriend, is worried about the violence Mazoch might have in mind once he finds his father. During a week of searching, Vermaelen and Mazoch chat, play chess, poke their heads into deserted malls. Occasionally at a far distance a slow stumbling zombie appears, but for the most part the two young men observe the zombies through binoculars or Youtube.

This sufficed as an amusing satirical essay about zombies (and perhaps America) but failed as fiction.  I’m not even sure A Questionable Shape makes a credible feint towards being a novel, let alone a zombie novel. The main problem, I think, is that the three main characters are painted in pale pale watercolors, and these pale creatures were not compelling enough for me to enter the dream of the story. The writer must not give the reader a choice. I understood a little of the philosophical organization of the book, but it's supposed to be a zombie novel about zombies so the fancy ruminations must be lashed to a plot that will carry the reader along. My heart sank when I saw the footnotes.

As the last pages approached, I realized we were not going to get even one bite. And fiction needs blood.

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