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You kids get off my lawn. 

The Living Dead - John Joseph Adams, George R.R. Martin, Clive Barker, Robert Silverberg, Stephen King, Norman Partridge, Neil Gaiman, Lisa Morton, Nancy Holder, Harlan Ellison, Kater Cheek, Catherine Cheek, Hannah Wolf Bowen, David Tallerman, Will McIntosh, David Barr Kirtley, Scott Edel It turns out that you can read peering through the fingers of one hand. I'm totally terrified of zombies, so reading a collection of zombie stories is fun for me. Hey man, we all have our things.

Anyway, the collection is pretty good. I didn't read all of them; I mean, who does in a collection of this nature? I was interested to see the stories by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and George R R Martin. They were all slightly disappointing, although the GRRM one was a really well done snarling screed of pain about the interpersonal murder that goes on inside love relationships. Yikes. The Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg story was so ridiculously old-school that it was almost cool again. But not quite.

I'll mention two I really liked. First, a fourth act of "Our Town", only with zombies, called "How the Day Runs Down". It sounds comic, and it is in places with the folksy Stage Manager talkin' 'bout the undead. But man, the suburban housewife's first person narrative about not being about to save her kids, about the futility of bourgeois anxiety, it just hurt.

The other one I'll mention is a lyric story, really more of a collection of impressions, called "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves." The narrator simply walks around Calcutta, observing the dead and undead. In the crushing poverty, there's not much of a difference: the lepers transformed from one kind of hunger to another. The city continues much as it always has. The dead are burned, the poor sleep in shantytowns because "where would they go?" I'm not really doing the story justice. It's just a thought, a moment, a vista.

I would have really enjoyed one of those semi-scholarly jobs about the various meanings of zombies in the current vernacular, but there's just a chatty name-dropping introduction. Oh well, you'll just have to decide for yourself what all the conspicuous consumption and rising masses mean.