I’m giving my blog over to the zombies this month to celebrate the release of my book, Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories). As part of that I’ve invited some friends to pop over and share their thoughts about zombies. One of the people who took me up on the offer was Cory Cone. Cory is the author of the fantastic zombie story Compassion, During and After the Fall which I had the pleasure of publishing in Niteblade. It was largely on the strength of that story that I invited him to contribute to A is for Apocalypse (which also, oddly enough, has zombies in it LoL)
Today, Cory is writing a bit of non-fiction for me to share with you here today. Specifically, he’s going to talk about the zombtastic works for Joe R. Lansdale. Confession time… I haven’t read any of Joe’s work, but after these glowing recommendations I intend to change that.
A Few Zombie Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
(a guest post by Cory Cone)
Whenever I’m asked to recommend a book, I suggest Edge of Dark Water by Champion Mojo Storyteller, Joe R. Lansdale. It is a depression era novel set in East Texas, the setting of most of Lansdale’s stories, and is among my favorite of his books. But honestly, making only one suggestion from his gargantuan bibliography of novels and short stories is near impossible. Lansdale is constantly inventive, funny, terrifying, and insightful in his fiction. His collections include Bleeding Shadows, Bumper Crop, High Cotton, among others. He is also the author of several novels, including the Hap and Leonard series, The Bottoms, A Thin Dark Line, The Thicket, and Cold in July, recently released as a film.
If you have never read anything by this author and are curious about some of his non-zombie short fiction, allow me to recommend the collection The Best of Joe R. Lansdale. It contains some of his best work, including one of my all-time favorite short stories, Night They Missed the Horror Show. But be warned: it’s a story that haunts long after the final sentence. Last year, Apex Magazine reprinted one of his most famous short stories, Tight Little Stitches In a Dead Man’s Back, and it’s available for free online. In addition, Lansdale frequently posts his stories for free on his website.
But it’s the month of zombie, so if you’re looking to kick back and read some outstanding zombie fiction, you can’t go wrong with the following three stories:
Christmas with the Dead
Calvin, surviving alone in a zombified world, isn’t going to let the walking dead stop him from decorating his house for Christmas. This story remains among my favorite from Lansdale. It’s silly, it’s funny, it’s full of the perfectly articulated imagery one comes to expect from a Lansdale story (“The way their teeth bit into her, how the skin stretched, it looked as if they were trying to pull old bubble gum loose from the sidewalk.”). In the mix you’ll find moments so moving you can’t quite believe a story like this is getting to you, especially the absolutely fantastic ending, which I’d be a fool to ruin here. You can find it in Bleeding Shadows. It was also made into a film by his son, Keith, which you can buy on DVD.
A Visit with Friends
This story can also be found in Bleeding Shadows. A very different tale from Christmas with the Dead, A Visit with Friends is told in first person and is mostly a single scene of dialogue between the narrator and his wife. They’ve secured their houses, adapted, and feel fairly confident they will survive. Here, though, it’s more than just the main character(s) making due—it’s the entire city. In many of Lansdale’s zombie stories, he gives his characters a lot of credit and shows just how much ingenuity humans could potentially have in such situations. That said, this particular story, as well as the next one I’ll be mentioning, takes a much darker look at the world than Christmas with the Dead. It deals with nastier human impulses and asks the question: Who, in this zombie world, are the real monsters?
The Hunt: Before, and the Aftermath
This is another first person story, which is always a treat. Joe R. Lansdale’s characters have such distinct, relatable, and enjoyable voices that it is always a pleasure to get inside their heads. This story was collected in an out of print book, Trapped in the Saturday Matinee, and in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24, edited by Stephen Jones. Once more, Lansdale uses the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop for disturbing human experiences. This story is about love, the temptations one must battle when married, and ultimately, forgiveness. Oh, and zombies!
There you have it. Dig in and eat up some great zombie fiction.
Thank you, Rhonda, for having me on your blog!