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Beware, Zombies: This 'Guide' Will Save Humankind

Growing up, I was obsessed with zombies. OK, what's the point in lying? I'm still obsessed with zombies. I am 33 years old, I even teach writing at Yale University. I have two children and a wife. But when I get together with my best friend, we watch zombie flicks: everything from Dawn of the Dead to Shaun of the Dead.

And, of course, we talk hypothetical scenarios.

For example: What would you do if the city of Boston were overrun with flesh-eating zombies, and you have to get to the last outpost of human civilization, which is nestled in the mountains in Winter Park, Colo.? Of course, first things first, you go to the gun store and pick up a heavy machine gun. Then you commandeer a car, preferably a Toyota Prius. Think about it — you really want to stop for gas?

If you find these types of scenarios interesting, let me recommend a little gem of a book called The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. The book's author is Max Brooks, a former Saturday Night Live writer and son of the legendary comic Mel Brooks.

Most people assume that Brooks wrote this book as a joke, and perhaps he did — but I'm not laughing. OK, I admit it — only a moron or an absolutely shameless zombie dork like myself would read these books and take every word at face value. But that's pretty much exactly what I do.

And I've got to say, Max Brooks makes a number of excellent points. For example, when fleeing zombies, Brooks advises against using a sedan. Instead, he suggests using an armored car. Even if you break down or run out of gas, you're still sitting pretty in a nice little fortress.

I never thought of that.

Brooks also scoffs at my notion of using a heavy machine gun, pointing out — quite rightly — that zombies can only be killed with a perfect head shot. I'd always imagined myself aiming my gun at head level, and then mowing down an entire crowd of the undead with one fluid spray of bullets. Not so easy, says Brooks, because zombies — like the humans they used to be — are not all the same height.

Yes, I realize that everyone else — including my wife — finds my deadly serious interest in this book to be quite funny/pathetic. But we'll see who's laughing when ghouls start clawing their way out of the ground.

Jake Halpern is an author, journalist and radio producer. His latest book, Dormia, was released in 2009.

My Guilty Pleasure is edited and produced by Ellen Silva.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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