Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Morning Buffet: My Bookshelves

So! I've had some people inquiring about the undead related non-fiction mentioned in last Sunday's Zombie Q&A. So I thought I'd offer a peek at my bookshelves and some annotated bibliography action. First, a few words about vampires vs. zombies* (copied from one of my 'Zombie Q&A' comment reponses):

"Unfortunately 99% of undead non-fiction is about vampires. Vampires have been a more popular subject of film and literature in the last 60 years or so because they're an easy metaphor for modern social and epidemiological phenomena such as AIDS, drug addiction, and promiscuity. Much more sexy and immediately relevant than the issues zombies generally bring up. They tend to be more hypothetical, philosophical, and cultural: the location/nature of human identity or "soul"; how we treat our elderly and/or demented; how we handle death and dying; how fragile and inflexible our society is - deteriorating rapidly if any one variable is tweaked. And of course all of the interesting things humans do to other humans in the absence of social structure and laws. Etcetera."

First of all, for the best zombie apocalypse survival advice...
Max Brooks' big pre-Survival Guide writing credit is being a Saturday Night Live writer from 2001-2003. I think that anyone who saw any episode of SNL during that period and would still put their life in the hands of this man deserves to die, eh?

In a poignant act of protest, Victor prepares to hurl on the Guide.

I try to keep all of my occult and occult-related books together in my bedroom so that I know approximately where to look when I need to find something. However, the collection ends up spread all over the apartment and mixed up with all the other books because I'm just not very good at being organized in that way. I'm always spotting something online or on TV I want to look up, then I forget to return the book to the appropriate collection - then it ends up lost in with the massive livingroom book mess like a needle in a fuckstack. So here are the books which I've managed to keep together in my room as of yesterday afternoon:

Let's see... what's relevant in this photo? (Hint: click on the photo to see it bigger). It would appear only a few things for the vampire readers - Russian and Slavic Myth, Transylvanian folktales, "Forests of the Vampire". However, you should bear in mind that if one goes back far enough in tracing most vampire myths, the distinctions between vampires and zombies start to blur and fade. Many proto-vampire revenants were very zombie-like. And I'm not even going into the demonology side of things here, strictly the human-coming-back-from-the-dead kind of character.

Food for the Dead by Michael Bell is very interesting, especially because it focuses on vampire myth and legend in New England. Historically, bit of vampire/supernatural hysteria often accompanied outbreaks of mysterious wasting diseases of uncertain transmission and course - most notably tuberculosis. New England was no exception.
The Monster Show is a great book for those interested in the history and evolution of horror movies. Lots of fascinating cultural/sociological snapshots of what was going on in this country during the production of a lot of horror classics, and insight into how horror films reflect our collective fears.

Not much zombie stuff here... let's keep looking...

If you are interested in Voodoo zombies, Tell My Horse will be of interest to you. Zora Neale Hurston was this totally amazing, ballsy anthropologist who traveled to Haiti and wrote this book about her experiences there. She wrote lots of good stuff, including an autobiography.
Oh shit, see that one spine there you completely can't read? That's a very cool book called Vampires, Burial, and Death by Paul Barber. It's subject is how the misinterpretation of the physiological processes of disease and death have contributed to vampire myth (and crazy burial rituals) throughout the ages.

No zombies here, but Piercing the Darkness is kind of interesting. It's about the different kinds of people who identify themselves as vampires. Contemporary.
Nope, but Dark Nature is cool for anyone interested in human (non-supernatural) evil especially from the perspective of evolutionary biology.

Four more voodoo books in the middle, there. You know, the Serpent and the Rainbow is actually a good read.

More vampires. And Nazis.
You know, there are even fewer zombie books than I thought. I guess I'll have to write one.

*There is a movie entitled Vampires vs. Zombies. Promising title, bad movie. I do not recommend.


casey said...

Very intersting. Now I wanna take a picture of my own occult/metaphysics library. But like your tomes, everything is scattered throughout the house.

The Dark Nature book looks interesting. I was also amused that we share a couple of titles, namely the Nazi-occult-conspiracy stuff. I blame Indiana Jones.

Undead Molly said...

Casey, are you looking for something to read right now? Pick out whatever you want and I'll bring it to you this weekend.

casey said...

As much as I'd love to take a crack at Dark Nature, I've got a lot on my plate. Brooke and I are reading State of Denial aloud to each other (complete with interpretive dance) and I'm still plowing through this awesome (but incredibly dense) book called The Singularity is Near. Also, I'm hoping to pick up the new Norman Mailer doorstop this week. It's about Hitler and the devil, coincidentally.

Undead Molly said...

Fine. I didn't want you touching my stuff anyway. And happy lovebirds reading aloud to each other is totally nauseating. Knock it off.

Anonymous said...

Your shelves are full of fascinating books. (I'm sure you knew that though. After all, you wouldn't have bought them if you didn't think they were interesting...)

I'm in town now, so if you'd like to, we should get together sometime.

Anonymous said...

i've had a look through lords of chaos... fun fun! i have that exact lovecraft comp... i dig the cover art for that series.

casey, i want to read that book on the singularity, give me your promo copy.