Yeah, there’s a book called Zombie Haiku, and it’s exactly what you think it is—and I bought it anyway.
Zombies have overridden some nameless city, and a hapless poet falls victim to the plague. As he transforms into the undead, the poet recounts his experience using haiku, three-line poems with five, seven, and five syllables:
Blood is really warm.
It’s like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming.
When dealing with zombies, one has to suspend disbelief to begin with, but Zombie Haiku takes that suspension to a whole new level. The basic conceit of the book—that a rampaging zombie can somehow write haiku as he’s rampaging—is a tough conceit to accept, even for readers eager and willing to embrace the humor the book offers.
But once a reader gets past that, the book is loads of fun.
The book replicates the poet’s journal, which he’d been using to chronicle “the earthly beauty which can be so overwhelming that I sometimes feel like I’m going to burst open.” The journal contains the kind of ridiculously sappy haiku one would expect from a single, middle-aged man who was probably teased mercilessly and called “Nature Boy” when he was in high school:
The bird flew away
with more than just my bread crumbs.
He took my sorrow.
Fortunately, the schlock doesn’t last. Instead of being a collection of bad nature poems, the haiku begin to recount the unusual events of the poet’s day, when radio stations stop playing music and 911 offers a busy signal. He eventually gets trapped by zombies and bitten, and he turns into a shambling nightmare—and the haiku continue to provide play-by-play.
Go along with the concept for a moment and forget that zombies can’t write or think. Seeing the world from a zombie-eyed view is darkly funny.
Getting trampled on
used to eventually kill you.
Now it just annoys.
The book never gets into details about why there are zombies or how big the plague is or anything like that. Ultimately, story doesn’t matter one single lick. It’s all about
brains, BRAINS, Brains, brains, BRAINS.
BraiNs, brains, Brains, BRAINS, Brains, brains, BRAINS.
BRAINS, Brains, brains, BRAINS, brains.
The book is designed to look like the poet’s battered, blood-stained journal. Snazzy-looking Polaroids of shambling undead are taped to pages throughout. While professionally done, with excellent make-up and shredded costumes, the pictures still have the feel of a beer-infused weekend when author Ryan Mecum got together with a bunch of his buddies to take pictures for his zombie haiku book. Someone, right now, is looking at those pictures and saying, “It seemed like a good idea at the time….”
The haiku, the photos, the slick design work—it generally all holds up as a really good gag, which can be hard to do with a book-length work. The zombie haiku are of uneven quality, although most of the jokes are good and, on the whole, pretty amusing.
You might kick yourself for even buying something called Zombie Haiku—but if you nonetheless find yourself irresistibly drawn to the book the way a zombie is drawn to brains, then it’s likely you’ll find this a fun little feast.