zone one-colson whitehead

zombie apocalypse now. i like when a writer takes the risks, switches it up. like his contemporary chuck palahniuk (one or both of them might kill me for saying that), his latest novel is gulping some haterade on hope. a comment on the obama generation? maybe. whatever the case, i was mostly not afraid to read this, except my parka hanging in my peripheral vision outright terrified me at least twice during the pulling of these passages. (sigh).

“He could not die. Two more creatures tumbled to the asphalt, their craniums disintegrated. Beauty could not thrive, and the awful was too commonplace to be of consequence. Only in the middle was there safety.
He was a mediocre man. He had led a mediocre life exceptional only in the magnitude of its unexceptionality. Now the world was mediocre, rendering him perfect. He asked himself: How can I die? I was always like this. Now I am more me. He had the ammo. He took them all down.” (148)

“It wasn’t the worst job he’d ever had. He was working there when Last Night slammed down, scratching at his law-exam-prep notebooks at night in the rec room. The New York headquarters of the coffee company was is Chelsea, a mile and a half past the wall. He could only speculate about who had made it out and who still roamed the halls. His social-media persona probably continued to punch the clock, gossiping with the empty air and spell-checking faux-friendly compositions, hitting Send. ‘Nothing cures the Just Got Exsanguinated Blues like a foam mustache, IMHO.’ ‘Sucks that the funeral pyre is so early in the morning-why don’t you grab a large Sumatra so you can stay awake when you toss your grandma in? Wouldn’t want to sleep through that, LOL!’” (151)

brilliant comment on apathy.

“Buzzwords had returned, and what greater proof of the rejuvenation of the world, the return to Eden, than a new buzzword emerging from the dirt to tilt its petals to the zeitgeist.” (53)



2 thoughts on “zone one-colson whitehead

  1. pop life (everybody needs a thrill):

    “Affront was a luxury, like shampoo and affection.” (21)

    “Infected by reruns. He sucked his teeth. Just as easy to get chomped up in a hayfield as in a subway tunnel. To be honest Mark Spitz had been hypnotized by the show itself, nestled inside the eighteen-to-thirty-four age demographic whose underdeveloped cultural immune systems rendered them susceptible to the series’ shenanigans. The acquisitive debit-card swipers and the easily swayed. The obedient. Endure a minor epiphany by show’s end and forget it by next week. At least that part of the program was true to life, he thought.” (59)

    “To think that there had been a time when such a thing meant something: the signifiers of one’s position in the world. Today a rusty machete and bag of almonds made you a person of substance.” (131)

    “That was the problem with progress-it made you soft.” (146)

    “He missed shame and guilt and a time when something higher than dumb instinct directed his actions.” (161)

    “He told himself: Hope is a gateway drug, don’t do it.” (179)

    “Every week or two they passed whipped-cream canisters back and forth and huffed until they felt their brain cells pop like soap bubbles.” (195-6)

  2. human resources:

    “No, you’re right. Mustn’t humanize them. The whole thing breaks down unless you are fundamentally sure that they are not you. I do not resemble that animal, you tell yourself, as you squat in the back of the convenience store, pissing in a bucket and cooking up mangy squirrel for dinner.” (158)
    “He stopped hooking up with other people once he realized the first thing he did was calculate whether or not he could outrun them.” (115)

    “Or it was lunatics and the crazy new society they’d cooked up, with a fascist constitution, or nutty rules like all the womenfolk had to sleep with the men to repopulate the race, or some other creepy secret you only discovered after you’d been there a few days, and when you had to split you found they’d hidden your weapons and stolen your bouillon cubes.” (125-6)

    “Mark Spitz didn’t ask about Harry. You never asked about the characters that disappeared from a Last Night story. You knew the answer. The plague had a knack for narrative closure.” (130)

    “He opened the door to the master bedroom and there she was, gobbling up his father. His father ceased his unsettling growls and shouted for his son to leave. The incident was never referred to again, and it became the first occupant of the corner in his brain’s attic that he reserved for the great mortifications. The first occupant, but not the last.
    It was, naturally, to that night his thoughts fled when on his return from Atlantic City he opened the door of his parents’ bedroom and witnessed his mother’s grisly ministrations to his father. She was hunched over him, gnawing away with ecstatic fervor on a flap of his intestine, which, in the crepuscular flicker of the television, adopted a phallic aspect. He thought immediately of when he was six, not only because of the similar tableau before him but because of that tendency of the human mind, in periods of duress, to seek refuge in more peaceful times, such as a childhood experience, as a barricade against horror.
    That was the start of his Last Night story. Everybody had one.” (70-1)

    “You know we like islands. But we wouldn’t live on Staten Island if they were giving out vaccines and hand jobs right off the ferry.” (72)

    “The insomniac’s brutal scenario had become the encompassing reality across the planet. There were hours when every last person on Earth thought they were the last person on Earth, and it was precisely this thought of final, irrevocable isolation that united them all. Even if they didn’t know it.” (87)

    “The city as ghost ship on the last ocean at the rim of the world. It was a gorgeous and intricate delusion, Manhattan, and from crooked angles on overcast days you saw it disintegrate, were forced to consider this tenuous creature in its true nature.” (6)

    “Perhaps they only represented charities and nonprofits, but in that case he was sure their clients out-healed, out-helping-handed, overall out-charitied their competing charities, if it can be said that charities competed with one another. But of course they must, he thought. Even angels are animals.” (11)

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