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There will be blood (and zombies)
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There will be blood (and zombies)

The cast and crew of the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are scrambling to deliver a summer blockbuster…. The idea of Lincoln as supernatural savior was born in 2008, when Seth Grahame-Smith, who is based in Los Angeles, had just finished the manuscript for his successful Jane Austen send-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He found himself in bookstores between tables full of Twilight novels and those piled high with Lincolniana. “Sort of shrewdly, from a cynical standpoint, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine these two things,’” Grahame-Smith said.

—- New York Times, May 9

Something strange is happening to mainstream fiction. This summer, novels featuring robots, witches, zombies, werewolves and ghosts are blurring the lines between literary fiction and genres like science fiction and fantasy.

Wall Street Journal, May 27

Genesis: First Blood

And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him 400 men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he himself passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck…and sank his teeth into Jacob’s pale flesh. And Esau drank greedily of his brother’s sanguine fluid, until he had his fill. And then he lifted up his eyes to his vampire army and said, “Ah, I may be more monster than human, but that sure beats a bowl of porridge.”

Talmud: The Sanhedrin of Darkness

It once happened that while Rabbi was delivering a lecture, he noticed a smell of garlic. Thereupon he said: “Let him who has eaten garlic go out.” R. Hiyya arose and left; then all the other disciples rose in turn and went out. In the morning R. Simeon, Rabbi’s son, met Hiyya and asked him: “Was it you who caused annoyance to my father yesterday?” R. Hiyya quickly hid behind his back the sharpened wooden stake he clutched in his right hand. “Did I? Sorry about that. By the way, is your dad home?”

Midrash: Ezekiel the Zombie Maker

When Nebuchadnezzar threw Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the furnace, the Holy One said to Ezekiel, “Go and bring the dead in the Valley of Dura back to life.” And Ezekiel did so, and the dead rose up, and they marched, with hands outstretched and lurching and moaning in that zombie way, into the nearest town, where much mayhem ensued, until a band of plucky teens, led by a grizzled old eccentric whose research had been shunned by so-called “mainstream” scientists, began fighting back with baseball bats and shovels.

Hasidic Tales: The Bewitched Bridegroom

A young unmarried hasid named Meir told his Rebbe, the “Maggid” of Mezeritch, that he was having difficulties finding a wife. Because of his poverty, no one would offer him a match. “Go in peace,” said the Rebbe. “Accept the first marriage proposition that is suggested to you.”

So he did. Unfortunately, Samantha was a witch. And while she promised not to use her powers and to become a typical balebusta, her family of witches and warlocks disapproved of the mixed marriage and frequently interfered in the couple’s lives. Meir constantly became the victim of spells, getting him into all kinds of tzuris with his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. Happily, Meir’s great-grandson Barry would move to California and make a fortune when he sold the idea to ABC.

Sholom Aleichem: Killer on the Roof

When I got home from Boiberik, having sold a full load of cheese and butter and various greens, Perchik greeted me at the door of my stable. “Lazar Wolf wants to see you, Reb Tevye,” said Perchik. “The butcher? What about?” I asked. “I don’t know. Only he says it’s important,” said Perchik. “Important? I have nothing for him to slaughter,” I said.

Oy, was I wrong. That night there was a full moon, and I guess I should have been suspicious of someone named Lazar Wolf. Well, to make a long story short, the back door flew open and in ran a furry beast with long claws and red eyes, wearing only a butcher’s apron. As the saying goes, a man is like a carpenter. A carpenter lives and dies, and a man lives and dies — sometimes screaming his head off.

Woody Allen: Love and Death (Mostly Death)

I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me. Unfortunately, he was a Dementor, a soul-sucking demon that feeds on the positive emotions of others. And kishke. I realized I had been projected into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Luckily, I hadn’t had a positive emotion in 40 years. So I gave him a cough drop to suck on, and spent the rest of the afternoon at a Bergman retrospective.

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