Laurie Rozakis, Zombie Notes (The Lyons Press, 2009).
You’ve read all those dusty old classics – Hamlet, Moby Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and more – but you’ve probably forgotten (or skipped over) the parts where it is revealed that, for example, Romeo and his family were zombies, while Juliet’s family wasn’t. (Now you can see where the idea for the Twilight series came from.)
Dr Rozakis’ Zombie Notes’ tells how these classics first appeared – including the zombies and vampires. She writes about Shakespeare, Disckens, Twain, Melville, Austen, Shelley and Conrad.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is omitted – most likely because it’s come down to us in its original form.
Zombie Notes is clearly a parallel to the ubiquitous Cliffs Notes, but while Cliffs is dry and dull as Egyptian tomb-dust, Zombie sparkles with wit and imagination.
Each work gets a chapter, and each chapter includes sections on
- Cultural Context – Shakespeare’s time, for example, was marked by the Zombie plagues
- The Characters – in which the vampires, zombies, and just plain folks are identified
- Three Big Ideas [ideal for writers of term papers]
- Big Three Symbols – in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Vampire Slayer, Yorick’s skull
- The Plot and What it Means – this part includes quotes from the texts, restored to their original form:
… so fierce they earned the name the “Black Plague”
… zombies take many forms” (e.g., “Moby Dick, the Zombie Whale”)
… represents how Denmark’s vampires have sucked the brains from Denmark
To be, or not to be a vampire, that is the question…
Finally, there’s a “Discussion and Essay Guide”, and a “Quiz” (in which some answers depend on Rozakis’ explanations).
In Hamlet, the Vampire Slayer, the play-within-a-play is “The Vampire Trap”. And we can easily guess what happens to Ophelia.
The “Cultural Context” section puts the writers in the context of their times. Dickens, for example, was
… writing under the name ‘Boz’ (short for ‘Be Opposed to Zombies’)
I wouldn’t recommend this as an introduction to those classics. If you haven’t read them, you might be amused by the zombie and vampire references, but otherwise, it would be like listening to a British comedy team doing a roast at a meeting of an exclusive men’s club – full of obscure references and inside jokes, signifying nothing.
But if you have, this highly-recommended book will re-open them, and re-illuminate them in a eerie new light.