One of my favorite novels of last year was Ron Currie Jr.‘s Everything Matters!, an ambitious story about faith, family, and the apocalypse. (He expanded on those points in an e-mail Q&A here last year.) That book is now out in paperback, and he’s working on his next novel. It’s a zombie tale, though he insists to Time Out New York that he’s not jumping on a bandwagon:
Obviously, it’s a trend right now, and it’s certainly not a trend that I’m trying to chase, but I’ve always been really fascinated by zombie stories. But I believe I’m treating them in a way that I’ve never seen before; making a real effort to explain zombie psychology. The assumption, I think, at least with the modern Romero-type zombie, is that there is no psychology there. But I disagree. I think there is—it’s not terribly complex, but it is terribly compelling. The common notion is that the zombie wants to devour and destroy and kill, and I disagree. I think the zombie wants to turn the whole world [into zombies]. Zombies hold their own God within them, and they want to turn everything into it.
Currie mentioned his zombie fixation in a 2008 essay on apocalyptic fiction, in which he wrote, “the kid in me still loves nothing more than a good old-fashioned zombie yarn.” The piece also sheds a little light on some of the models for Everything Matters!, like Kurt Vonnegut‘s Galapagos and George Saunders‘ story “Bounty,” both of which look for the humor in end-of-the-world tales. As he writes, “Like much of Vonnegut’s work, Galapagos is hilarious but in an acutely uncomfortable way; as one reviewer said famously, we laugh in self-defence.”