Short story: “Before They Were Flesh-Eating Zombies Trying to Take Over the World”

by look i have opinions

“Before They Were Flesh-Eating Zombies Trying to Take Over the World,” by Carolyn Ferrell

Online here as a sample of the Fall 2013 Ploughshares; also available as a hard-to-read PDF

7,872 words, including the note numbers and list item numbers

Neat, but I don’t really get what it’s about. Some of the characters’ lives are poignant, but not enough. Most of them are trivial, or are told at such a distance that their identities are vague, or seem like unkind caricatures. The end offers a moral of a sort, but I don’t think the story sets it up effectively. If I could feel closer to the living characters, the moral would hit me more deeply.

I have to admit that, as a clueless white reader, I was jarred and put off by the stereotypical blackness of some of what was going on. This is one of the few situations where I want to see an author bio and/or photo. I want to be reminded that the author knows what she’s doing, and that I’m not reading somebody’s cleverly written attempt at an offensive joke.

The last few footnotes suffer from a common web design problem: it’s impossible to skip directly to them using the links, because the page is too short. The simplest solution is to extend the length of the page (with blank lines or other material). Maybe this isn’t something that comes up often for fiction editors, so they don’t have a style guideline in place.