5 New Zombie Books to Satisfy Your Hunger

I’ve bitched about the proliferation of zombie novels and, of course, much like the ravenous undead they feature, the novels keep coming. Call it a fad. Call it a subgenre that won’t go away. Call it my karma coming back to haunt me.

Call it what you will, but here are a quintet of recent books that feature a possible cause of the apocalypse … at least according to the CDC.

A ZOMBIE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: FROM THE MASSACRE AT PLYMOUTH ROCK TO THE CIA’S SECRET WAR ON THE UNDEAD by the pseudonymous Dr. Worm Miller takes the position that zombies have been an intricate part of history, but largely covered up. Miller tells the story of the United States’ last 200 years and how zombies played a major part in its formation.

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The Amateurs

Marcus Sakey has proven himself a first-rate, character-driven crime novelist. In THE AMATEURS, new in paperback, he calls upon his protagonists to keep us involved with a rather weak, implausible premise. There are several impressive moments, but the overall results are less than satisfying.
 
Four friends — Jenn, a travel agent; Ian, a high-finance trader; Mitch, a hotel doorman; and Alex, a bartender — gather after work each Thursday evening at the bar and restaurant where Alex works for drinks and to take their minds off their dead-end lives for a little while. One evening, before his shift begins, Alex’s boss, a sleazoid drug dealer, enlists him for an off-the-clock job.

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Win WHERE’S MY WAND!

Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris and David Rakoff have all produced winning memoirs of their demented, alternately heartrending and sidesplitting late-20th-century American childhoods. First-time author Eric Poole joins their ranks with his hilarious, heartfelt chronicle of growing up in the Midwest of the 1970s in WHERE’S MY WAND?: ONE BOY’S MAGICAL TRIUMPH OVER ALIENATION AND SHAG CARPETING. We have two copies to give away.

To enter:
1. E-mail us your name and mailing address (U.S. only; no P.O. boxes) with “Wand-er lust” as the subject line, to editor at bookgasm dot com.
2. Await Friday, June 3, when we announce the randomly chosen winners.
3. Or, just buy it at Amazon.

Your Holiday Weekend Flick Attack

What’s been going on at our sister site, Flick Attack, “hitting you with one random movie a day … whether you like it or not”? Here’s what you’ve missed:

• the should’ve-stayed-lost hippie comedy GOLD, “the Altamont of free-love flicks with every frame a pool cue to Meredith Hunter’s skull”
• ’80s slasher CHEERLEADER CAMP, featuring “what has to be one of the most intriguing exploitation casts the period ever produced”
• Bruce Lee “unwittingly” stars in GAME OF DEATH II
• the centerfold-thriller POSED FOR MURDER, “just sleazy enough to leave you tumescent”
• THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING, a horror sex comedy “so odd, so laden with nudity, so goofily self-aware, you gotta see it”
• 7 lost-in-translation title cards from kung fu trailers on the KARATE: THE HAND OF DEATH DVD

How many more reasons do you need?

The Big Book of Adventure Stories

Just in time for the start of summer arrives editor Otto Penzler’s latest big-as-a-brick anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF ADVENTURE STORIES. If you buy only one piece of fiction for the season, make it this one. It’s full of awesomeness, and at 900 pages, it’s going to take you a lot of laying out by the pool or on the beach.

The press materials peg as “destined to be the greatest collection of adventure stories ever compiled,” and I would not disagree. Penzler has assembled some of the genre’s greatest authors, greatest characters and greatest —yes — adventures for an overview that stands essential, whether you grew up on this stuff or are just getting ready to.

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Monstrum!: A Wizard’s Tale

Unconventional. That’s a good word to describe MONSTRUM!: A WIZARD’S TALE, its author and the subject matter. I don’t mean it simply in the sense that a book about lake monsters might be considered unconventional, since they are a dime-a-dozen. Among even that section of the shelf where you have your books on cryptozoology, phenomenology, ufology, demonology and other assorted ogies, this slim volume remains unconventional.

Tony “Doc” Shiels wrote this slight book. Its slightness, however, remains an illusion, a sleight of hand. It illuminates the topic of lake monsters — i.e., Nessie, Morgwar — from an angled perspective. It’s fishing for those inhabitants of the deep with wordplay, surrealism, alchemy and Guin-ness.

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Who won RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR?

In the early 1970’s, as our nation’s youth railed against every conceivable societal norm, a funny-looking teenage Jew started turning up at open mike nights in various New York City comedy clubs. Surprisingly, he didn’t suck. That funny-looking teenage Jew is now the even funnier-looking middle-aged comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who despite his transparent shortcomings, has managed to carve out a hardly respectable career and a reputation for shock and awe unrivaled outside the Bush administration. With RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR, his first book of rants and musings, Gottfried sullies an entirely new medium with his dysfunctional worldview.

We have one autographed copy to give away, going to:
• Warren Lovett of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Buy it at Amazon.

Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut

Here’s the good news: TEENAGE WASTELAND: THE SLASHER MOVIE UNCUT exists. Here’s the bad news: I came out of it with a list of “must-see”s so long, I’d need to get rid of my family just to afford the money and time to track the titles down, not to mention watch them.

Author J.A. Kerswell has lovingly assembled an all-encompassing guide to perhaps the most critically reviled subgenre of horror … which is exactly why you’ll want to read it, provided you know which FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel contains the Fake Jason. And if you have no idea, it doubles as a primer. Hell, with the dozens and dozens of slashers in my DVD collection, even I learned something. Actually, I learned a lot.

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PREVIEW >> Where’s My Wand?

In the acclaimed memoir WHERE’S MY WAND?: ONE BOY’S MAGICAL TRIUMPH OVER ALIENATION AND SHAG CARPETING (due in paperback June 7), media executive Eric Poole recalls his unusual upbringing in 1970s St. Louis. Here’s an excerpt about “the good china.”

A while back, a friend of mine told me that her mother’s aunt used to stand in front of the stove, cooking dinner, wearing a full-length mink coat and her best jewelry.

This is my kind of woman. Not just because she sounds slightly insane and obviously doesn’t care if somebody breaks a tooth on a diamond brooch in the meatloaf; but because this kind of behavior represents a “live for today” attitude that I pretty much suck at.

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Jeannie Out of the Bottle

Although I am by no means a stranger to the genre of completely unnecessary autobiographies dedicated to aging actors whose relevance as celebrities ended before I was born, I can’t say that I picked up this latest entry out of any enthusiasm for its subject. As much as I love 7 FACES OF DR. LAO, if you were to ask me which gorgeous blond star from a classic ’60s sitcom about a magical beauty prone to creating comic situations whilst attempting to help the man she loved owned my heart, I’d say Elizabeth Montgomery without a second’s hesitation.

It wasn’t out of any interest in Barbara Eden’s life and career that compelled me to listen to the audiobook version of JEANNIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE, which is credited to her and (I presume) the actual author of the work, Wendy Leigh, but rather a personal interest in the subject of ghostwriting itself.

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