le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

the dead are very popular

I seem to be encountering a lot of (mostly ya) books about the dead. I just finished Charlie Price's Dead Connection, which I liked quite a lot, and which features a teenaged boy who can talk to the dead people in the cemetery he visits. After reading Sabriel earlier this summer (and being disappointed by it, unfortunately), I made a short list of books about the dead and/or necromancers, ones I've read fairly recently.

  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone
  • Sabriel
  • Hold me closer necromancer
  • Dead School
  • Adoration of Jenna Fox
  • Graveyard Book
  • Eva Ibbotson
  • If I stay (gayle forman)
  • Dead Connection
  • Lark - Tracey Porter
  • This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers
I was thinking about all these death-related stories, then realized - in one of those a-ha, oh DUH moments - that vampires and zombies are also dead. The undead count, in my reckoning of books about dead folks; to become a vampire or zombie, you have to die first, and you surely aren't alive in any normal sense once you've become zombified/vampire'd.
So what's with this? Why this massive surge of popularity in the dead/undead? Vampires have always been popular, it's true; Twilight is just the latest mode. But zombies have gotten very popular in the last few years, as well - and they have not always been popular. There have been a number of books concerned with necromancers, or their equivalents (people who can raise/interact with/alter the dead, even if they aren't explicitly named necromancer).
Can this be attributed to anything? Is there something about the current cultural moment that draws us more to the dead/undead than usual?
I'm not sure. It's perplexing, and vaguely disturbing (but not really that disturbing, because I am okay with stories about the dead and undead and necromancers). but it does seem to be a kind of trend, and thus worth thinking about.
What does having the dead/undead in your story get you? what do these kinds of characters and plots force us to think about? can we understand these kinds of beings - zombies, etc - as metaphors, or symbols? 
I wonder. I don't have any hypotheses at the moment; it's just that my attention has snagged on all these dead/undead themed books. Or maybe I'm seeing a pattern that doesn't exist - maybe I've been drawn to them because i encountered a few, and now I'm looking for a trend? Though it does seem worth noting the fairly recent publication dates of many of these books....

why the focus on the dead, the undead, and the necromancer?

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