Author Max Brooks Tells Convocation: We Can Learn a Lot from Zombies
Max Brooks, author of the FSC common reading book, "World War Z", spoke at Convocation on Sept. 14 in Branscomb Auditorium on the campus of Florida Southern College.
LAKELAND (Sept. 14, 2011) – And you thought zombies were just cool, although especially creepy, monsters. Not so, says Max Brooks. They’re a metaphor.
“For me, what’s so interesting is not escaping into a fantasy world but what that world can teach us about ours,” Brooks said at the Florida Southern fall Convocation on Sept. 14 at Branscomb Auditorium.
]Brooks is the author of World War Z, a 2006 novel about an apocalyptic plague that nearly turns all of humanity into flesh-eating zombies. There have been several films and TV series about zombies over the years, including the groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead, but most are stories of small groups of survivors besieged by rampaging hordes of zombies. Brooks said he was more interested in the nature of civilization and how people create communities to combat a threat.
“With a zombie plague, it’s huge, it’s global. It gave me a chance to explore these issues, like global trade, global politics, and war. What if the catalyst was a zombie war?” he said.
A self-professed “nerd” who is fascinated with history and fantasy, Brooks told the Convocation he based much of the catastrophic scenarios in the book on historic events.
Brooks, 39, is the only son of comedian and film director Mel Brooks and late actress Anne Bancroft. He was part of an Emmy-winning writing team for TV’s Saturday Night Live and had previously published The Zombie Survival Guide, a how-to manual for dealing with zombies should they show up at your door.
In the afternoon following Convocation, Brooks spoke to a master class about writing. He revealed that he suffers from dyslexia, which makes reading difficult. In spite of his learning disability, Brooks said he began writing when he was 13 and has written constantly ever since.
“I’m like the sickly kid who becomes a pro athlete,” he joked. “I got into writing because I couldn’t do anything else. It’s the only thing I’m qualified to do.”
Brooks said his next project is a graphic novel called Harlem Hellfighters, based on a true account of a unit of African-American soldiers who fought heroically in World War I but were despised by their own army.
Freshman Theresa Daley from Jacksonville was awed by Brooks.
“I’m a mega-fan. I loved both his books, everything about them. He made it seem like it really could happen,” she said.
And for those like Daley who can’t get enough of World War Z, a movie version is in the works starring Brad Pitt. Brooks said he is not involved in the production but understands it will be grand in scale.
“It’s the first zombie epic,” he said.
Brooks ended his address at Convocation by issuing a challenge to the faculty to find creative ways of teaching difficult or complex subjects.
“I was trying to talk about dry subjects in a way that was exciting. … The issues we’re facing today don’t have to be boring if we deal with them with metaphor,” he said.