Guest post by Adam.

Find it at your library!

While consuming copious amounts of Halloween topical literature recently, Taryn happened upon this book. On the surface, it checks all the boxes for her, primarily that big one next to “Colson Whitehead wrote it.” Unfortunately, it checks a similarly weighty box on her oh-no-no list, namely “Is about zombies.” So what’s a girl to do?

Convince her charmingly hapless husband to read it and report back on whether or not she “can handle it.”

Zone One follows main character Mark Spitz as he works with a team of “sweepers” to finish clearing out the first zone of Manhattan that the newly reformed American government is retaking. The USMC has already rolled in and handled the bulk of zombiecide and all that’s left is the tedious task of clearing every single building and structure floor by floor.

For a zombie novel, the main character does a surprising amount of self reflection, but once I got used to the atypical pace, I really enjoyed it. Something about it reminded me of the post-apocalyptic movie Book of Eli. Sure, Denzel kicks some major ass, but he also has dialogue and a measure of thoughtfulness and introspection.

I’m just saying, don’t be surprised when mid-zombie attack, you all of a sudden start getting random backstory. Don’t worry. He comes back to the action eventually.

Mark Spitz (not his real name, but a nickname you eventually learn the story behind) is an odd main character. If forced to pick a single word to describe him, I would have to go with unobjectionable. Even weirder, the main character obviously embraces and proclaims his mediocrity. I have little doubt that he would wholeheartedly agree with my moniker of unobjectionable-ness. I cannot properly explain why I liked him so much. My overinflated sense of self (I really am amazing) guarantees that it’s not a kindred spirit kind of thing. Whatever the reason, I can honestly say that I genuinely liked the guy.

So back to the million dollar question. Can she handle it? I’m happy to report that the awesomeness of Colson Whitehead’s writing is well worth the slightly gory price of admission. Five stars!

Book Nerd Note from Taryn: Colson Whitehead really is awesome. He's also having a bit of year, with his latest novel The Underground Railroad being chosen for Oprah's Book Club and winning a National Book Award. His NBA acceptance speech is definitely worth a watch (I've watched it several times, and it gives me a lot of feelings. BMF!)

Find it at your library!

Paula Young Lee is flippin’ hilarious. I stopped at least three times within the first chapter of Deer Hunting in Paris to read passages aloud to Adam, at one point snorting so hard with laughter that I couldn’t get the words out. Mix that snarktastic humor with a defiantly skewed worldview and an unholy love of wild game, and you get a memoir that is equal parts gut-busting and gut-churning. (I admit I had to skim some of the parts where Lee waxes philosophical about removing the entrails from an animal carcass. I do not share her love of offal, and I definitely won’t be making use of her recipe for deer heart.)

Lee grew up in Maine, the middle child of Korean immigrants. Her father was a Methodist minister, and as a lifelong Methodist myself, her depiction of both her father’s deep faith and her own ambivalence towards it resonated with me. Also striking a chord was the fact that she met her significant other, a corporate lawyer and conservative Republican, on an online dating site. Replace a few details and you have the story of how I met my husband. Although Lee feels strongly that marriage isn’t for her, her steady and supportive relationship with a man who is in many ways her fundamental opposite would be instructive to anyone looking for their “perfect mate.” You might not know who you’re looking for after all.