Amid these works grounded in reality, there’s a zombie story. The undead are staggering ever closer to the saturation point in pop culture, but Walter’s amusing, unique take in Don’t Eat Cat is refreshing. In this world, the zombies — many of whom have turned that way thanks to a club drug — have been tamed, trained and stuck in menial jobs, even behind the counters at Starbucks. The narrator’s ex-girlfriend is one of them, and, missing her, he sets off to find her. What he finds instead is an unhappy truth about himself.
. “Everyone has an opinion about when it all went to hell: this war, that epidemic, the ten billion people threshold ...,” he says. “But here’s what I’ve come to believe. That maybe it’s no different now than it ever was. Maybe it’s ALWAYS the end of the world. Maybe you’re alive for a while, then you realize you’re going to die, and that’s such an insane thing to comprehend, you look around for answers and the only answer is that the world must die with you.”
Maybe he’s right; maybe it’s always the end of the world. But that fact doesn’t stop the dad from demanding to know which one of his kids is betraying him, the meth heads from enduring physical suffering for the promise of oblivion, the drunk from sharing Hogwarts with a boy he barely knows. “Whole worlds exist beneath the surface,” muses the son of the thief in the title story as he tries to piece together what happened to his father. I got into some trouble. Don’t we all?
Connie Ogle is The Miami Herald’s book editor.