Not too long ago I got a book to review in the mail called Urrgh: A Zombie Memoir. I was pretty intrigued, but nothing prepared me for what was in the book. It– no, a description won’t work, let me show you:
Yeah, pretty crazy, eh? Well I knew a review was off the table, but I absolutely had to talk to the guy responsible for Urrgh, a gentleman called Dr. Yuel Darvish. Before we get to the interview, here’s a brief biography of both the good doctor, and his interview subject: a zombie by the name of Carl Hoyle.
Dr. Yuel Darvish, PhD is the world’s preeminent zombologist. He has dedicated his life to paranormal studies, specifically as they relate to the general cadaverous state (or a surprising lack thereof). He studied zombology at Quarpish University in Oxlandshire, England. He lives along with his cat, Pip.
Carl Hoyle is a zombie. He currently resides in Dr. Darvish’s subterranean laboratory, where he spends his time strapped to tables, eating scraped-up bits of road kill, and watching reality television. He is the world’s first published zombie.
Bricks of the Dead: Why don’t you tell me about yourself and your work? What led you to be a zombologist?
Dr. Darvish: Ah, yes. Well, as you are certainly aware, zombism is certainly gaining ground in our otherwise-polite society, and I believe that undead life is the next great frontier. There is so much to learn from the “walking dead,” as your popular American television program puts it. I decided to put an advert in the local paper requesting the aid of a research assistant to help me better understand zombology and the intricacies contained therein. The notice received just one response, from Mr. Carl Hoyle. He signed the proper forms, I knocked him unconscious with a rag soaked in ether, locked him in a pen with a peckish zombie, and I had my own, personal research subject.
But the more I studied Carl, the more I realized he had quite the story to tell. Here, at last, was a first-person account of what it meant to undergo the change from living, breathing human into an animate dead thing! We agreed to collaborate on this book, and I think the work speaks for itself.
One special note; I decided to merely be a transcriber for the tome, and not a translator. As you yourself have already pointed out, I wrote the book in Carl’s original zombish. I thought this was crucial to preserving the narrative and giving it the true gravitas deserving of such a remarkable (and remarkably raw) tale.
BotD: What value do zombology offer to academia? To society in general?
DD: You’re quite right that zombology is important to academia. Of course, we all know the practical value of the study of the undead. Any number of lives might be saved if we can truly understand the inner workings of the zombie psyche. But the study is important for the sake of study, as well, principally because zombology represents a new frontier of sorts for academics. We so often pride ourselves on what we know that it is especially alarming and intriguing when we look at the zombie plight and realize we know almost nothing. I find, as an academic, that any discussion of zombology brings out the most creative, expressive ideas from even the most repressed academic. You could say that ironically, the undead have breathed new life into scientific study.
BotD: What is the most surprising thing you learned in your study of zombies?
DD: I’ve oft been surprised by their humanity. It lies dormant much of the time, but every once in a great while, if you pay attention, you can see a flicker of true human emotion in their eyes. These moments are most apparent when Carl is not reaching out for my flesh. So yes, I would say that zombies’ humanity is most surprising.
Well, their humanity, and their stench, which is completely unbearable.
BotD: Does the zombies represent some new stage in evolution?
DD: Time will tell, I suppose, though I don’t see much evolutionary advantage to being a zombie. A typical zombie’s lifespan is quite a bit shorter than a typical human’s (though, admittedly, this is skewed a bit by how many people are actively working to murder zombies). A zombie can only survive as long as there is fresh meat with which to sustain itself; if the zombie were to become the next evolutionary step, zombies would cause themselves to go extinct by severely diminishing their food supply without a means of replenishing it. They are not evolution; rather, they are a fungus.
BotD: Based on your studies, what does popular culture get wrong about zombies?
DD: If Carl’s various drippings are any indication, then it’s safe to say they decay much, much faster in real life.
BotD: What would you like the general public to know about zombies? What’s the most important thing they can glean from your research?
DD: By far, the most important takeaway is that we, as a race, should stop eating bananas. Zombies are alarmingly in tune with the smell of bananas and can sense them inside humans up to 12 hours after consumption. Eating bananas is a death sentence when zombies are near.