The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies
Trade Paper, 160 pages, $10.95
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
“She hated zombies. She had enough of zombies. The word itself drove her crazy, each time she read it, she felt like it was taking a bit of her soul.” These are the sentiments of Dani, the book editor protagonist in The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies. They could certainly extend to book reviewers, as well. Fortunately, author David Agranoff possesses a fine sense of humor. Which is most admirable and necessary when dealing with the perplexing perennial popularity of the hobbled undead. It is also a handy asset to have when writing a polemic parable. Sermonizing with satire has a grand literary tradition. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a noteworthy example. Agranoff doesn’t speak softly and carry a big stick. He opts for grab ’em by the throat; shake ’em up with violence; make ’em laugh at in-jokes and the absurdity of it all. Never before has an attempted conversion to an alternate lifestyle been such crazily quirky fun.
Portland, Oregon is the setting of the tale. The aforementioned Dani works for Fulci (reference alert!) House which publishes mash-ups of masterpieces of literature, augmented with zombies, into the plotline. It’s the logical extension of Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. Dani must tackle Zombie War and Peace, and wonders why Tolstoy never thought of making his lengthy tome into a trilogy. Most of the employees at Fulci are aficionados of zombies in the mass media; geeks of gore who can quote lines, and spout trivia with alarming ease. Dani is an outsider at her workplace, and has increased her odd one out status by recently becoming a Vegan. She chooses this dietary path for moral/ethical reasons. Her significant other, known as Magik, joins her in menu modification. A new government endorsed program is a factor in Magik’s choice: Humanely treated animals are given a drug which makes them mellow and docile while they are being prepped for comestible purposes. Magik sees this as doublespeak; a stoned pig will still become the stuff of bacon.
As is often the case with good intentions, easing the suffering of the animals leads to a road to hell of ramifications. Only Vegans are immune to the resulting and predictable zombie apocalypse. Yet even with Vegans, there are warring factions. The author has a field day poking fun at the complications that ensue from conflicting subgroups. He is unsparing in his comic commentary; which is especially commendable, since he is himself a practicing Vegan.
David Agranoff’s treatment of the material makes for an enjoyable read. His seriousness of purpose is leveled by levity: “What is so damn rad about eating brains? What is cool about rotting standing up?” Such queries make the ubiquity of the flesh eaters more palatable. The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies once again illustrates how a good laugh can make moralizing easier to digest.