Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ZombieStop Parade by Richard Buzzell (aka ZombieStopperUno)

Zombie Stop ParadeThis book is entertaining, not so much for its plot as for its style. There are truckloads of books telling tales of young progressives working to enlighten the masses about corrupt systems, but few told in such a fresh and economical way.

The whole story unfolds in the form of a diary kept by the unnamed best friend of a late-teens/early-twenties college dropout named Corky. Both guys are unhappy with the way large corporations seem to break the rules and expect the population to buy their twisted rationalizations as expressed by the corporate-owned mainstream media. There is much mention of a recent “financial fiasco,” which everyone is dealing with, and which is being spun as usual to make the corporations look blameless. Corky and his friend run a progressive blog called ZombieStop, which they founded when twelve years of age. It includes a forum and, as the book progresses, a satirical comic strip. Corky is also a DJ at an invitation-only club. The two guys are very good at what they do, and very careful about letting things go to their heads. They just want people to stop being zombies.

The plot has a few twists and turns, but what held me from beginning to end was the spare and elegant prose style. This is the diary of a young man with a close friend whom he admires. They share a common goal, and are willing to put in hours, years, really, in front of computer screens to achieve it. His trust of Corky is tested from time to time by others; he doesn't go crazy or confront Corky at knife-point or anything; he just reflects upon his feelings in the diary. It is a real treat to read someone's thoughts about friendship, loyalty, truth, and doubt when they are presented so honestly, and in a very clever deadpan style.

The book reads like a Jane Austen novel; any really intense action occurs offstage (in this case, a house and a yacht are blown up after some embarrassing personal finance information is uploaded to the blog by someone calling himself the Jackal; this brings the blog under suspicion but also boosts its following). What the reader is treated to is the inner thoughts of the number two guy as he handles the blog's newfound fame, the rekindling of a relationship he has had with a lover who criticizes him constantly, and the intrusive and leading questions of an FBI agent assigned to sniff out conspiracies. The friend discusses at length Corky's common-sense progressive ideology and his quietly subversive style without ever sounding didactic or fawning; he is able to show doubt, modesty, and humor in a way that is rare in literature of this type.

Downside? The prose, while very good, could do with a comma-ectomy. Buzzell also needs to decide upon English (“neighbourhood”) vs American (“labor”) spelling. But these are easily fixed, and do not detract from this little gem of a novel.

Author's Blog

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