Friday, April 10, 2009

The Zen Of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, just across the bridge from Marin County. For those of you with unaligned chakras, Marin County is the local epicenter for the self-indulgent New Age movement. New Age stuff is a convenient way for middle aged, dissatisfied, affluent people to feel good about themselves without actually taking responsibility for how their lives turned out. My old man was really into this stuff, and I can't tell you how much Deepak Chopra/energy crystals/communication coaches/sweat lodge/rebirthing ceremonies I've been exposed to. It's probably why I turned out so ornery and negative.

Anyway, I've probably flipped through my fair share of self-help books in my time and they all seem to run along the same lines: stop comparing yourself to other people, understand that you have value, banish negativity, and visualize your goals with an 'active mind.' I've heard people visualize themselves as spiritual travellers, power animals, reborn children, and confident sexual dynamos. But finding a path to self-improvement by visualizing yourself as a flesh-hungry zombie? That's a new one.

The Zen of Zombie finally targets the niche market in horror-themed self improvement. With a series of simple lessons, the reader will transform from an indecisive, vacillating wimp to a confident, straight-shooting undead hero.

All right, this book is a joke. And a pretty funny one, too.

I like the way Scott Kenemore writes. He's got a sense of humor and gift for absurd one-liners that appeals to my Simpsons-quoting ass. In his chapter on the insecurity surrounding human's desperate quest for love, he gives us this chestnut:

You never see zombies lying or prevaricating because they don't feel "worthy" of someone's brain. Doesn't make much sense, does it? A zombie knows he (or she) is good enough just as God (or the voodoo priest, or the nerve reagent) made him. A zombie says, "Here I am. I can only be myself. Take me as I am. Give me your brain."

It's not perfect. Like most gimmick books you find in the impulse purchase stands, it's a little content-light. You'll finish this one in two trips to the can. Sometimes the funny word play that highlights the book gets lost as the author slips too deep into referential parody. But in the final analysis I had a good time, I learned some valuable lessons, and I'm ready to put my new and improved zombified outlook to the test.

Check out author Scott Kenemore's blog here.

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