Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!

Lynne Kiesling

Last week was our spring break, and the KP Spouse and I were in Colorado all week. I spent the entire week off-grid — no computer, no Internet, zip zilch nada, nothing but snow and books and music (and, toward the end of the week, basketball for the KP Spouse and our friend Dean who joined us there). Ironically, I managed to pre-schedule almost daily posts for the week I was on holiday, while this week I haven’t had the time to do any! Oh, the joys of the quarter system … three “first week of class” episodes! But things have calmed down a wee bit, and I am spending the day catching up on writing and correspondence.

Anyway … on our way back to the airport from Breckenridge we spent a few hours burbling around Denver, in two neighborhoods: the Lower Downtown area (LoDo), and South Broadway, where we enjoyed browsing used bookshops. In LoDo we stopped in at the best bookstore I’ve been to in a long time, Tattered Cover. Great old building, lots of seating, wonderful staff recommendations, well-organized and thorough inventory, lots of magazines, café … if I lived in Denver I would spent lots of time and money here!

I didn’t buy any books because my luggage was already bulging, but I was sorely tempted by a few titles, especially Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I adore Jane Austen, and like zombies as much as the next person, so the intriguing combination was hard to resist. Then I get home and find that some of my friends who share my tastes have hit on the work at the same time, and then this week at Boing Boing Cory Doctorow wrote about the book:

Never successfully read Pride and Prejudice. Bored to tears by it. I’m not proud of the fact. Plenty of smart people have the utmost respect for the book, and I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that the problem is with me, not with Austen.

But P&P&Z has just too much Austen and not enough zombies. I found myself skimming, skipping larger and larger chunks of text to get to the zombie sequences, desperate to escape the claustrophobic drawing-room chatter of Austen’s characters with a little beheading, disemboweling and derring-do.

I couldn’t finish it. But I expect if you were the kind of person who loves both Austen and zombies, this book would just plain knock your socks off.

[austenevangelist]Oh, honey. Claustrophobic drawing-room chatter? In Austen’s hands drawing-room chatter is metaphorical beheading, disemboweling and derring-do accomplished with subtle irony and gentle wit. That’s precisely the core of the humor of the concept of P&P&Z — on its face the plot and dialogue in Austen is genteel and within strict social guidelines, but the real action is in the tension between the visions, dreams and desires of the protagonists and those constraints. It’s mindful Regency girrrl power, not mindless derring-do.[/austenevangelist]

Now I do regret not buying it and stuffing it into my suitcase!

ETA: This comment on Cory’s post totally wins the thread:

There’s only one literary mashup anyone needs to know, and it’s a single line. “It was half way to Rivendell when the drugs began to take hold.” — Hunter S. Tolkien, “Fear and Loathing in Barad Dur”