Friday, February 25, 2011

Dead With Envy

What's pretty damn rare and has George Romero's name on the cover?  The hardcover Dawn of the Dead book.  I bought my copy around 1980, I believe.  Never even cracked it open until this week.  (I also have a paperback copy of Night of the Living Dead which I have yet to read.) 

When I moved to CA I actually feared this book was lost, and never having ever seen another copy for sale anywhere, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to read it.  As to why I never read it when I bought it, that I can't speak to.  I have plenty of books I haven't gotten around to yet.  Those fears were put to rest, however, when I received a shipment of my stuff that had been in storage back East, and this was on it.  Oh joyous day.

I'm not very far into the book yet, but the opening chapters which detail the chaos surrounding the television station (if you remember the movie, you remember that opening scene quite well) and projects is done remarkably well and adds a lot of light to the characters in Romero's classic film. 

George Romero's name, obviously, is the draw on the cover, but he co-wrote the book with Susanna Sparrow.  Honestly, I can see Sparrow being the one who did most of the work based off Romero's ideas.  I haven't delved into a history of the book, but I'd be surprised if it were the opposite way around.  The book is too tightly focused to be from the mind of a director.

It's too early to tell if the book will hold up as well as the movie does.  I can say that at the time it was written (1978), zombies were not all the rage and I don't think they were all that used in horror fiction.  Romero, as is well documented, changed the way our culture views these walking undead.  Countless people have taken inspiration from him and his creations.  The book can't take that credit, but so far it's turning out to be one hell of a read.

(And for all you horror fans eager to get your hands on this -- no, I'm not selling my copy.)

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