Frank Sanello (Totally floored)
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Date Posted: 12:17:39 09/30/12 Sun
Book review by Frank Sanello
Not since a reporter interviewed a certain Louis about his relationship with a vampire by the name of Lestat has the living dead come so alive as in Christopher Antony Meade’s vividly imagined new novella, “The Zombie, the Cat and Barack Obama”.
Because a plot turn or twist seems to appear on just about every other page, it’s difficult to describe the story and its protagonists without becoming a spoiler or tease, as in “Rosebud is a sled” or “The girl in “The Crying Game” is really a guy.”
Meade takes the reader down a horrific rabbit hole that would have traumatized Alice. During the trip, the author somehow manages to link the myth of flesh-eating zombies to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, Pres. Obama’s ancestry, what the government is hiding at Roswell’s Area 51, the actual perpetrators behind the recession and global warming, the Three Little Pigs’ intergalactic origins, 12-Step programs, what really went down when Osama bin Laden was killed, and the “real” source of Hitler’s anti-Semitism which some readers may find a bit too gallow humorous.
Unlike most monster tales from Greek mythology to Lindsay Lohan, “The Zombie, the Cat and Barack Obama” leavens its Grand Guignol style with mordant humour reminiscent of Hitchcock. (Watch Meade’s YouTube video. His voice is identical to Hitchcock’s and perfect for an audiobook version.)
A reviewer of Anne Rice’s third vampire chronicle, 2002’s “Queen of the Damned”, hailed the author for creating “universes within universes.”
The same kudos go to the multiple, interconnected universes of the Oval Office, Zombies Anonymous meetings, Buckingham Palace, bin Laden’s unlikely fetish and other surprises Meade has created and which I will try not to spoil.
WARNING: Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to find out one of the novella’s plot twists.
Before he’s killed, Osama in Howard Hughes mode indulges his yen for school girls in uniform by watching marathon TV screenings of the St. Trinian’s film series (1954-2007) about a fictional English boarding school for delinquent girls.
Osama’s behavior out grosses a similar but tamer (!?) scene in the South Park animated feature film where Satan and Saddam Hussein have anal sex in hell.
Julian Faversham, the title’s zombie, is a gentleman of the old school who happens to be a member of the living dead cohabiting with Meade’s alter ego and narrator. The fictional Meade, which a police inspector’s report says “claimed to be some sort of a writer, although neither of us had heard of him,” unwittingly invites Julian to share his apartment.
Faversham pays the “rent” by playing Chopin nocturnes and Mozart sonatas on his music-loving roommate’s piano.
“The Zombie, the Cat and Barack Obama” follows the style of classic gothic novels but adds modern-day anachronisms that lend the book its unexpected wit.
The description of Julian is reminiscent of Anne Rice’s blood-sucker Lestat’s – only more nauseating – and I mean that in a good way:
“The figure at the piano got up…and gave me an old-fashioned, courteous bow. He was not a pretty sight. The skin seemed to have dried out and it was shrunken, so that it barely covered the outlines of the skull. If there were any eyes, they were sunk so far into the sockets as to be invisible. Some of [Julian’s] parchment-like epidermis clinging to his neck had come away and was hanging loose like wallpaper…
The hand the cadaver extended to me to shake was green with mould, and the skeletal tips of the fingers emerged from the crumbling remnants of skin that covered the palms and wrists.
“Julian Faversham at your service,” it said.
I declined to shake the decaying appendage”.
WARNING: The next paragraph has another spoiler.
Like all zombies, Faversham craves human flesh, which Meade recasts in 12-Step Speak as an addiction rather than cannibalism. While the clueless author/narrator presumes Faversham is having a “one-night stand” with a female cadaver he’s invited back to their apartment from the local cemetery, it turns out that poor Julian has had a relapse and has resumed eating humans instead of Zombies Anonymous’ recommended alternative, cat food. Julian’s literally cadaverous sex partner turns out to be a fellow member of ZA who sits with him until the urge to cannibalize passes.
One final spoiler I can’t resist: The narrator informs us that Gulliver’s Lilliputians are real and migrated to colonial America, where their descendants commit identity theft and other white-collar crimes.
Meade uses this “historical fact” to satirize the corruption of post-Soviet Russia’s Wild West Capitalism where even the treasures of the Kremlin Museums are for sale to the highest bidder – or stolen by clever Lilliputian thieves.
A series of laugh-out-loud appendices in the book satirize conspiracy theorists by blaming most of the world’s crises on various villains, among them Santa Claus’s psychotic sibling, Anti-Santa.
(Tim Burton needs to read this book. The Anti-Santa story within the story would make a great animated segment in a live-action film about the other characters.)
My only disappointment was that Meade hasn’t given us more. “The Zombie, the Cat and Barack Obama” is one of those books that you wish would never end.
Contact the author and urge him to write a zombie trilogy. It may outsell Anne Rice's!
Available on Amazon.
United Kingdom (Amazon UK)
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