I love New York City. It’s why I frequently read books that are set there. I could go into all the reasons why but if you love New York City too, you probably know ’em. And if you don’t, that’s cool, it’s not for everyone.
Obviously, New York City is not right now what it normally is due to the coronavirus shutdown. It’s painful for me to consider as I know the city has so much life in it. Human life yes but also the energy that comes with so many humans living their lives.
I’ve tried several times to read Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, as the premise of a literary zombie novel interests me. But I find Whitehead’s style to be too descriptive, too rambling, too unfocused for my tastes. He creates vivid scenes but in past attempts, I didn’t feel like having the energy to get to those scenes.
However, with all that’s going on, I decided to suck it up and finish it. I’m glad I did. Because while my issues with Whitehead stand, this was the perfect novel to read as a backdrop for current affairs.
It’s about the zombie invasion, yes, but it’s more about what the zombie invasion means to people who eye NYC with dreams, goals and ambitions. And how catastrophe can take that away at any moment. And how for those who survive, like protagonist Mark Spitz, it’s especially heartbreaking. Whitehead gets all of those points right. I’d dare say this book inadvertently captures the mood of the moment for many.
I’m guessing on a certain level, this may function as satire. I’m not knowledgable enough on Whitehead’s style to go into that at great length. But it does work well as a novel of dreams deferred because of circumstances out of our control. Of loss and desire for a place that defines us.