Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – a review

As far as gimmicks go, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is pretty gimmicky. It’s like Snakes on a Plane — it’s the title! It’s the high concept!

And yet, PPZ works — mostly. Interspersed with chunks of Jane Austen’s deathless prose (oh come on, you knew that was coming) are Seth Grahame-Smith’s additions. To his credit, he weaves in Eastern martial arts, a backstory, and even a bit of history to the zombie parts, so he’s not just throwing zombies in willy-nilly. The Bennets are all trained in Shaolin, which is looked down upon by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has trained in Japan and who keeps ninjas. The zombie sections are clever and amusing, and the zombie part of the book makes up a passable story.

Grahame-Smith has fun with his little conceit, and the fun carries the book. However, there are a few sections that drag on too long without zombies. If I wanted to read pure Jane Austen (and I tend to reread one or two of her books a year) I could go to my bookshelves. Those sections could have benefited from more zombies. I never thought I would ever write that about Jane Austen, but there you go.

The classic confrontation between Lizzy and Lady Catherine is turned into a martial arts flying scene, Grahame-Smith gets in plenty of snickers about balls and fingering (God, what is he, twelve?), and overall, it was pretty amusing. There are also illustrations, which are excellent. And the book winds up with the kind of reader discussion topics that you see in book club editions.  (“Vomit plays an important role in PP&Z…Do the authors mean for this regurgitation to symbolize something greater or is it a cheap device to get laughs?”)

All in all, quite fun, and worth a few laughs. Silly, yes, gimmicky yes, but sometimes fun is all you want out of a book.

The writing life

Words: 0

I was sidetracked by the American Experience documentary on the Native Americans, starting with the Pilgrims vs. the Wampoag. Then I got ready to write, but family intervened and I chatted with my dear sister-in-law for close to an hour. Great conversation, but there went that.

Earlier I sat in on A’s cello lesson. His teacher was away in China for six weeks, and just got back last week. She commented that he’s grown since she’s been away, and I think she’s right. He’s been using a three-quarter size cello that is now officially too small for him. We’ll upgrade him to a full-size instrument this summer.

I’ve been reading Paul Kearney’s The Ten Thousand, and it’s really good. I think Kearney and I read the same books on military history and strategy. I had a jolt of recognition in this one scene about a character ascending stairs that were hard to walk up but just right for a horse to travel with ease — not exactly my stairs at Trieve, but close enough.

But reading the Ten Thousand after The Steel Remains, I think my tolerance for machismo is on the wane. I need to read something that is slightly less butch. I wonder if this is why I’m writing a romance now? This seems to be part and parcel with the streak of movies that I wrote about the other day. It might be time for a double bill of The Devil Wears Prada and any of the Jane Austen oevre. Not the zombie one — as much as I am looking forward to reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it is my reward for finishing the first draft on the new work. It will have to wait til then.

Yoga in the morning — zombie killing in the afternoon

Saturday was the kind of day that really makes Austin weird, as the bumper sticker says. Saturday morning I went to yoga at Lululemon on Sixth Street, near Waterloo Music. Paula from Kula Yoga taught a flow class and I had to bail a couple of times, once putting myself into child’s pose just to regain my composure. Listen, I only made peace with yoga when I realized that it’s not supposed to feel good til the class is over. People who say yoga is relaxing are like the people who say acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Of course acupuncture hurts — someone is sticking needles into you. It just doesn’t hurt as much as you think it should. Plus, it works. Just like yoga.

What else works? Shovels, sledgehammers, nine inch nails protruding from the end of two-by-fours, and other zombie killing implements that were on hand at the Space Squid issue release party at Frugal Media. Surprisingly, samurai swords didn’t. They bend when embedded into a zombie’s head.

There should be pictures soon — I still have a film camera and there’s been a delay in developing the pictures. But I am sure that Space Squid will have some to post soon too.

And hey, if you think yoga and zombies don’t mix, they don’t call them warrior poses for nothing, you know.