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Naming of Parts

Tim Lebbon

PS Publishing

UK Hardcover First

ISBN 1-902880-17-1

80 Pages ; £25/$40

Date Reviewed: 04-26-02

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel




02-14-02, 04-25-02, 08-05-02, 12-13-02

After vampires, zombies are the ultimate cliché of the horror genre. They're easy to do as a special effect in a movie, and generally boring to read about. 'Naming of Parts' puts the zombies where they belong -- in the background of a powerful coming of age story. By focusing on the characters and by expanding the idea of zombies to create a whole world of living dead -- from grass to flies to cows -- Lebbon has actually managed to breathe life into the living dead. By matching the disintegration of the world with the disintegration of a family, Lebbon creates a surreal mirror in which the anxieties of the characters are manifested in the rot they find growing about them. Careful prose supports his imaginative premise, and the result is a superior work of fiction.

Jack is just of an age when he's first starting to realize that he'll have to grow up. Things haven't been well in Jack's house of late; his sister is having problems with their parents, sometimes disappearing, sometimes showing up filled with teenage anger and rebellion. Her fights with their parents frighten Jack, as does her adult knowledge and actions. She's growing away fast, and he is hanging back with his parents. One night, something tries to get in the house. Afterwards, nothing is the same.

Suddenly Jack is just as well equipped to understand the world outside as his parents. Nobody knows what's happening or why, only that it's bad, that things are dying and coming back to life intent on consuming flesh in some cases. Trying to find out what's going on isn't easy. Jack's sister is away, and the family just needs to hook up and try to escape to someplace where things aren't going wrong.

Lebbon handles the child's point of view with assiduous care. His prose is fantastically controlled, and his story is filled with surreal wonder and quietly apocalyptic terror. He hones in on the details and gets them right, letting the reader fill in the larger stories. Both the family struggle and rotting world's end are seen through the eyes of a child slowly growing up in a world without rules. Though the novella is short, Lebbon gives the story enough space so as to seem quite full. There's a lot of emotional heft to be found in this book. It's a great way for someone to sample the fiction of Tim Lebbon, and another fine addition to the PS Publishing line.