1. I hate books about zombies.
2. I hate movies about zombies.
3. I’ve thought about nothing else since I finished this story.
It is very funny when my preconceived notions are so blatantly trampled upon.
Cahill, the nasty, tired, bored and unsatisfied narrator of this first story entitled “The Naturalist” also shares my feelings about zombies. He makes lists about the defining qualities of zombies, what they like and don’t like, and makes a good point about their vision, can they see? If not, how can they see you? They are attracted by fire, but does it put them in a trance? They have an uncanny sense of smell. Cahill is stuck in an American city after a disease much like AIDS is released on society, and he describes the underbelly of the city in glorious detail. One thing I noticed right away, he wasn’t trying to get out. Zombies are wandering dangerously close to Cahill, and a few other misfortunates, it seems that this is a penal colony, like Papillon. Cahill is a slow boiler and it is a realization that will come to you gradually.
McHugh gives the reader great set pieces; the interiors of apartment buildings which have been looted or a pharmacy that has nothing left inside, except expired medications. Cahill builds a life in the small corners of the city and observes the dwindling zombie population while trying to remember what it is like outside the walls. Meanwhile he’s sharpening his game on the latest “inmates”. He finds focused solace in the pictures of the former residents of the apartments he sleeps in, which brings things down to earth and makes this story less John Carpenter-like. It is very hard not to devour the entire book in one sitting.