I have been a Stant Litore fan for quite a while now. It all started when I was perusing books on my Kindle and his name kept coming up. I would read the titles of his books and then read the descriptions. Wow. Just wow. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I bought Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows.
I came away from that book with three convictions.
1.) Stant Litore is a master of sorrow and loneliness.
2.) Stant Litore has an understanding of Biblical literature that would blow the rest of us away.
3.) Stant Litore knows how to write!
Why am I telling you this?
See, the book I’m gonna review, No Lasting Burial, requires a little bit of set up.
Stant Litore writes Science Fiction (which is also awesome!) but he writes what can only be described as weird fiction. He has a whole series of books entitled The Zombie Bible.
In these books Stant takes a Biblical figure and asks the question how would a devoutly religious person from the ancient world respond to a zombie apocalypse? This is a fascinating question!
It brings up issues of culture, material culture, values, faith & identity. It also takes the question of religion very seriously.
See, I’m a devout Catholic. I have been one most of my adult life. However whenever I try to find movies or television shows that authentically lay out how a sincere Christian would act, I am left empty and hollow.
Its not that entertainment gets the Christian wrong (which they often do – but that’s another post.) For the sake of faint of heart, they get the experiences wrong.
We all know that life can be hard. It’s visceral, guttural, earthy and sometimes gross. Very rarely do movies, television & books with authentically Christian characters get their world right. The producers shy away from the heard realities of life. Everything is veiled or discussed in coded language.
Stant Litore get’s it Right.
His characters are full of rage, pride, lust. They watch their loved ones get murdered, or starve. They are hard, lean people who have gone through some tough times. In spite of those times, when their backs are against the wall, they lean on their faith to keep going. Stant’s works are visceral and gritty.
Let’s talk about No Lasting Burial.
I’ve read every Zombie Bible Story published so far. I saved this one for last because it deals with the Gospel of Luke.
Let me start out by saying Stant knows his Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic. He makes liberal use of terms and names, so that you feel like you’re visiting a foreign world. However, because he knows the Jewish Law, you quickly get the sense that his characters live with a certain amount of tension as they struggle to be faithful. The results can be both good and bad, for the characters.
Also, Stant Litore’s writing is beautiful. He has a way of describing the most basic – fish cooking on a wood fire, walking along the sea shore, or an intimate moment between a young girl and a boy – and making you feel vulnerable for witnessing it. There were times in this book I was embarrassed because the scene was so intimate, so personal, that I felt like I was eaves dropping on two lovers. When a writer can make you feel that, he’s done something.
The characters are wounded and broken people. This one can’t forgive his father. That one is full of fear for her child. This one has grown dogmatic and self-righteous because he can’t forgive himself for his cowardice years before. Yet they all go through their own growth as the story advances. Stant Litore is a master of the character arc, and it shows in this book.
Meanwhile, the dead walk the earth, consuming the living.
They have one intense moment after another. When the dead attack, most people work together to fight them. When the present danger has abated, their interpersonal problems resurface. Finally, these Iron Age Characters try to make sense of a world where the dead keep coming back, while also being good, observant Jews and dealing with the Romans.
There is a richness to Stant Litore’s prose that feels like poetry. H has woven a rich tapestry of belief, emotion, ancient history, and – dare I say it – hunger, into a wonderful book. I highly recommend all of the books in the Zombie Bible, especially No Lasting Burial. Pick it up today!
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