Saturday, September 11, 2010

Paul is Undead

Paul is Undead. Alan Goldsher. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 310 pages.

For some, the most indelible memory of their television-viewing lives was the moment Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. For others, it was Neil Armstrong's 1969 moon landing. For today's generation, it might be the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.
I realized television was more than sitcoms and sporting events on December 8, 1980, the night Mark David Chapman tried to lop off John Lennon's head with a silver scythe.

Paul is Undead is strange, no question. The premise is simple enough: what if three of the fab four were undead? What if John, Paul, and George were zombies? (What about Ringo? Well, he's a ninja.) The format is slightly unusual. The book is an oral history of sorts. A collection of interviews. So readers will "meet" John, Paul, George, Ringo, and many of the men and women whose lives were changed--for better or worse--by knowing the Fab Four. The novel focuses mainly on the past--1958 through 1970--through John's meeting with Paul one summer day to the band's breakup. Of course, the later years are touched on here and there.

This one made me uncomfortable in places. Though to be honest, reading any Beatle biography is likely to make readers uncomfortable to some degree. It won't be for everyone. But. That's only to be expected. If you like zombies--brain-eating zombies--then this one might appeal. It's definitely violent--in places. (Funny in others.) If you like the Beatles, and, if you can tolerate the wild premise of this one, then it might appeal to you as well. Though the facts have been changed--greatly changed--you'll find many familiar elements of the story. These basic events do make up the band's history.

Did I like it? Not particularly. I kept reading because I was curious. I wanted to know how the author chose to imagine certain events. It was violent, funny, and completely irreverent.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

I liked PAUL IS UNDEAD. Loved it, actually. I'm a Beatles nut, and if I may be frank, you're incorrect about the facts being "greatly changed." One of the things I liked best about the book was that the author seemed to go out of his way to get the history right.

Heidenkind said...

They're adapting zombies to bands now? Hmmmmmmm.

Becky said...

I liked the attention to detail. The events--the timeline--were true to a certain extent. And I really did appreciate that. I thought it was one of the things that made this book work well. But all the murderous violence--all the zombie turnings--did *change* the facts.

I am a big Beatles fan. I'm just not a fan of zombies.

Heidenkind said...

PS~Please tell me there were adapted song titles.

Kailana said...

What an interesting idea for a book... I am rather curious now!

Tim A Martin said...

Interesting. I'm a Beatles fan but couldn't imagine reading this. Glad you reviewed it first as I may have been disappointed. Now I wonder what an Elvis zombie might be like....?