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Zone One (2011)

af Colson Whitehead

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,5621108,378 (3.34)189
Mark Spitz and his squad of three "sweepers" move through Zone One of lower Manhattan, a walled-off enclave scheduled for resettlement in the aftermath of a zombie plague. The great masses of the undead have been violently dispatched by a Marine detachment. It falls to Spitz and his fellows to take care of the handful that remain, as well as a second-tier of the infected known as "stragglers": zombies who have bypassed the cannibalistic urges of their more lethal fellows in favor of a hollow-eyed, eerily nostalgic repetition of some mundane act.… (mere)
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» Se også 189 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 109 (næste | vis alle)
I read Colson Whitehead's essay in the New Yorker about growing up in New York City addicted to B-grade horror movies acquired from mom-and-pop video stores. He described how he tried to write "Zone One" and then abandoned the manuscript, so I was very glad to see that this one had finally been published. I also know that this particular bloody zombie-killing adventure is really a labor of love. How often can you say that?

"Zone One" is a really great read, and I get the feeling that Whitehead had a great time writing it. His "The Intuitionist" aggravated me a bit because I found it too abstract and distant, but he seems to be tapping a much deeper, more personal vein of memory here. Kinetic, action-packed, gory and darkly humorous, it's filled with memorable, likable characters and plenty of good fight scenes. "Zone One" is a serious novel that you could take to the beach. It's also beautifully written: it's easy flow and impressive efficiency -- the author doesn't seem to waste a word -- suggests that he's at the top of his game here. In a sense, it's less political and more personal than the other Whitehead that I've read. Race -- often the focus of Whitehead's writing -- is mentioned only briefly, and many of Zone One's characters spend a lot of time trying to reconcile their favorite memories of a vanished world with a bizarre, violent present. This translates to a sort of middle class nostalgia. Mark Spitz, the book's main character, is a thoroughly average Long Island dude just trying to make it through the zombie apocalypse, and while trying to make it through the zombie apocalypse, he often feels nostalgic for the middle class comforts of his youth, which makes him, I suspect, a bit like the author. I also don't think it's a coincidence that Mark Spitz's unit is tasked with eliminating non-threatening zombies that, mysteriously, return to the places where they lived and worked to mindlessly perform repetitive actions. In any event, Mark Spitz's memories, and the tight friendship formed by the three members of his three-person unit, make "Zone One" a surprisingly warm and relatable reading experience. Warm and relatable for a novel that features a lot of flesh-eating and exploded craniums, I guess.

When "Zone One" gets political, it does get pretty dark. The ending's not an entirely optimistic one. Whitehead touched on the paranoia he used to feel while growing up in eighties New York, and that's certainly present here, too. The novel is a delicate balance between the hang-together attitude displayed by the characters as they try to clean up a world overtaken by the living dead and the author's suspicion, expressed in his essay, that the zombie apocalypse might be just around the corner and that anyone you know might suddenly want to take a chunk out of you. I'm so glad that Whitehead decided to go back and finish this this one up. Recommended. ( )
2 stem TheAmpersand | Mar 24, 2021 |
Bleak, poetic, and deadpan funny. A bit of a one-joke story, but it's a good joke. ( )
  erikostrom | Mar 6, 2021 |
I have been a minor fan of Colson Whitehead since I read one of his books for a Dewey's Readathon several years back, so it was rather exciting to see he has a new one out. Now, if I had known ahead of time it was going to be about zombies, I probably would have backed off. I am not the biggest fan of zombies in fiction, literature or otherwise (it is only with a grudging sense of respect I still watch The Walking Dead - and let's be honest, no one watches/reads Highschool of the Dead for the story). Still, what I found in Whitehead's treatment of the zombie genre was one of the most startling, dark depictions of a post-apocalyptic dead-filled world I've ever read. It was dark, at times it was hard to read, and I would definitely suggest it to anyone a little sick of the zombie shtick and looking for a fresh look on the subject.

Some issues came up during reading the book, several which could be easily explained away by the story itself, but others which slightly hampered my reading enjoyment. Whitehead's writing style is, for lack of a better word, dense. His sentences can easily flip between being lengthy verging on rambling and short choppy thoughts interjected between soliloquies. Many reviewers have described the narrative as being cold, and that is certainly true, but it is also important because the main character himself, Mark Spitz, is cold and disconnected from his world. He has spent his entire life maintaining a perfect distance away from other people and the zombie-calypse isn't going to stop him now. If anything, it only furthers the space between him as a person and a society that is quickly falling into hell. Some might be put off by such a protagonist. At least he doesn't start panicking in the middle of a crisis and start making stupid decisions like so many past protags in his place have done, you have to give him that.

All in all, a brilliant and bloody work. Not for those who dislike gore or descriptions of rotting bodies walking around. Once again, a reminder to myself that Mr. Whitehead is certainly an author to keep track of. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
I like Whitehead's work generally, but this one fell really flat for me. It got off to a slow, clumsy start and was sort of herky-jerky all the way through and was a slog for me. I'm all for trying to write literary fiction zombie stories, but Zone One succeeds as neither literary fiction nor zombie fiction, nor indeed as the two combined. Whitehead peppers the book with a few nice turns of phrase, but on the whole, this one was a big disappointment. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
I get it, you own a thesaurus. The underlying story was engaging, but the prose was frustrating. I'm not sure imitating Tim O'Brien is always a good choice. ( )
  sarcher | Jan 1, 2021 |
Viser 1-5 af 109 (næste | vis alle)
“Zone One” spares the form’s conventional reliance on summer-movie scares and chase scenes — though there’s plenty of those too — and instead turns an unsparing focus on the dark reality such a world-crumbling plague unleashes. ... At one point, Whitehead compares humanity’s shift to the ravenous undead as self-actualization for the secretly immoral or those too timid to chase their dreams. “I have always been like this,” Whitehead coldly observes in a mob of townspeople-turned-monsters. “Now I’m more me.” ... Linguistically cryptic military diagnoses, the PR churn of the war machine and a merciless city that fed on its own long before its citizens started feeding on one another still endure in Whitehead’s apocalypse, all the way to the bitter end.
tilføjet af Lemeritus | RedigerLos Angeles Times, Chris Barton (pay site) (Oct 30, 2011)
 
A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star. It invites forgivable prurience: What is that relationship like? ... Colson Whitehead is a literary novelist, but his latest book, “Zone One,” features zombies, which means horror fans and gore gourmands will soon have him on their radar. He has my sympathy. Broad-spectrum marketing will attract readers for whom having to look up “cathected” or “brisant” isn’t just an irritant but a moral affront. These readers will huff and writhe and swear their way through (if they make it through) and feel betrayed and outraged and migrained. But unless they’re entirely beyond the beguilements of art they will also feel fruitfully disturbed, because “Zone One” will have forced them, whether they signed up for it or not, to see the strangeness of the familiar and the familiarity of the strange. ... There will be grumbling from self-­appointed aficionados of the undead (Sir, I think the author will find that zombies actually . . .) and we’ll have to listen for another season or two to critics batting around the notion that genre-slumming is a recent trend, but none of that will hurt “Zone One,” which is a cool, thoughtful and, for all its ludic violence, strangely tender novel, a celebration of modernity and a pre-emptive wake for its demise.
tilføjet af Lemeritus | RedigerThe New York Times, Glen Duncan (pay site) (Oct 28, 2011)
 
Cinematic in scope and nimble in its use of hard-core gore, it’s an absorbing read, crammed with thoughtful snapshots of the world the survivors have left behind... The implicit question: Have we all become zombies? Are 21st-century Americans wandering around in a stupor, drinking designer coffee from designer mugs, ordering the same modular sofas from the same big box retailers, standing in trances before copying machines in drab office buildings coast to coast? ... Whitehead’s answer appears to be “yes,” which can be problematic for the novel. As readers, we should be at liberty to mourn a civilization that appears to be gone for good — one with safer homes, loving families and, yes, flat screen TVs. But the book sometimes makes us feel naive, even foolish for courting these feelings, in the same way a smug New Yorker make a non-native feel like a hick.
 
In the endless and in no way tedious debate between lovers of genre and lovers of whatever "literary" fiction is (we can't define it but we know it when we see it), consider this theory: a book is not a song. A book is the performance of a song... Whitehead isn't your usual zombie singer. He never overburdens the zombies with allegory or omits the requisite gore, but he does what all artists do: he observes, closely, and reports back what he sees... Whitehead does have a tendency to overwrite – sentences sometimes grow so rhythmical, you fail to take in their actual meaning as the words wash over you – but he achieves a kind of miracle of tone. A fragile hope permeates these pages, one so painful and tender, it's heartbreaking.
tilføjet af Lemeritus | RedigerThe Guardian, Patrick Ness (Oct 13, 2011)
 
From the very opening, Zone One sets itself as a novel about ideas, rather than people. The hallmarks of (recherché) postmodernism are ever present: temporal distortion, metafiction, pastiche, paranoia... This approach may work to great effect elsewhere, yet in a zombie novel, where pace and narrative urgency are of the essence, it falls sadly flat. On the odd occasion that the novel does begin to gain some momentum, the author has a tendency to embark on tiresome digressions which involve but are not limited to groceries, flossing, tog-count and yoga mats. As a result, the narrative shambles along at the pace of an emaciated skel... This is, without doubt, a dense, difficult book. In parts it is amusingly clever, yet it is also guilty of being too clever. The author’s use of temporal distortion, for instance, lacks the necessary control leaving the plot tangled, disoriented, and dull.
 

» Tilføj andre forfattere (1 mulig)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Whitehead, Colsonprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Corral, RodrigoOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Koay, Pei LoiDesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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The last time he saw his childhood home was on Last Night. It, too, had looked normal from the outside, in the new meaning of normal that signified resemblance to the time before the flood. Normal meant "the past." Normal was the unbroken idyll of life before. The present was a series of intervals differentiated from each other only by the degree of dread they contained. The future? The future was clay in their hands.
It was hard to argue with the logic of the Island die-hards and their sun-drenched dreams of carefree living once every meter inside the beach line had been swept. The ocean was a beautiful wall, the most majestic barricade. Living would be easy. They'd make furniture out of coconuts, forget technology, have litters of untamed children who said adorable things like, "Daddy, what's on demand?"

In practice, something always went wrong. The Carolinas, for example. Someone snuck back to the mainland for penicillin or scotch, or a boatful of aspirants rowed ashore bearing a stricken member of their party they refused to leave behind, sad orange life vests encircling their heaving chests. The new micro-societies inevitably imploded, on the island getaways, in reclaimed prisons, at the mountaintop ski lodge accessible only by sabotaged funicular, in the underground survivalist hideouts finally summoned to utility. The rules broke down.
Mark Spitz had met plenty of the divine-retribution folks over the months. This was their moment; they were umbrella salesmen standing outside a subway entrance in a downpour. The human race deserved the plague, we brought it on ourselves for poisoning the planet, for the Death of God, the calculated brutalities of the global economic system, for driving primordial species to extinction: the entire collapse of values as evidenced by everything from nuclear fission to reality television to alternate side of the street parking. Mark Spitz could only endure these harangues for a minute or two before he split. It was boring. The plague was the plague. You were wearing galoshes, or you weren't.
He missed the stupid stuff everyone missed, the wifi and the workhorse chromium toasters, mass transportation and gratis transfers, rubbing cheese-puff dust on his trousers and calculating which checkout line was shortest, he missed the things unconjurable in reconstruction. That which will escape. His people. His family and friends and twinkly-eyed lunchtime counterfolk. The dead. He missed the extinct. The unfit had been wiped out, how else to put it, and now all that remained were ruined like him.
When he used to watch disaster flicks and horror movies he convinced himself he’d survive the particular death scenario: happen to be away from his home zip code when the megatons fell, upwind of the fallout, covering the bunker’s air vents with electrical tape. He was spread-eagled atop the butte and catching his breath when the tsunami swirled ashore, and in the lottery for a berth on the spacecraft, away from an Earth disintegrating under cosmic rays, his number was the last one picked and it happened to be his birthday. Always the logical means of evasion, he’d make it through as he always did. He was the only cast member to heed the words of the bedraggled prophet in Act I, and the plucky dude who slid the lucky heirloom knife from his sock and sawed at the bonds while in the next room the cannibal family bickered over when to carve him for dinner. He was the one left to explain it all to the skeptical world after the end credits, jibbering in blood-drenched dungarees before the useless local authorities, news media vans, and government agencies who spent half the movie arriving on the scene. I know it sounds crazy, but they came from the radioactive anthill, the sorority girls were dead when I got there, the prehistoric sea creature is your perp, dredge the lake and you’ll find the bodies in its digestive tract, check it out. By his sights, the real movie started after the first one ended, in the impossible return to things before.
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Mark Spitz and his squad of three "sweepers" move through Zone One of lower Manhattan, a walled-off enclave scheduled for resettlement in the aftermath of a zombie plague. The great masses of the undead have been violently dispatched by a Marine detachment. It falls to Spitz and his fellows to take care of the handful that remain, as well as a second-tier of the infected known as "stragglers": zombies who have bypassed the cannibalistic urges of their more lethal fellows in favor of a hollow-eyed, eerily nostalgic repetition of some mundane act.

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