"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Literature Tuesday ..... The Rise of the Governor & Lord of the Flies

I am back! It has been a long few months. The holidays and the winter cold I got after the holidays really took a lot out of me. As much as I wanted to write a blog I had neither the time, energy or ambition to do so. I actually just deleted all the posts I had started and failed to finish (since most of them were no longer relevant).

But I am back! I feel the spring coming on - we just set our clocks ahead and it is now still light on my way home from work. The winter blues are fading and everyday I feel a little more energetic. So lets be hopeful and see if I can keep up the momentum and begin to blog more regularly.

So ....... literature (one of my favorite subjects).

What seems like a very long time ago I wrote a blog entitled: What is literature? The purpose of that blog was to just make a statement about the fact that what is junk to one reader (dare I say - 50 Shades of Grey) others think is fabulous.

For my recent birthday my 6-year-old picked out a Walking Dead gift basket .... it included action figures, a tee-shirt, a hand-made birthday card with a picture of Rick Grimes on it and a book. The book is "The Rise of the Governor" by Robert Kirkman. It is not a great piece of literature .... it will not go down in the annals of Tennessee Williams or Kerouac or Steinbeck but it kept me enthralled. I am of course a HUGE fan of the Walking Dead (I think I may have mentioned that a time or two). And the book is a prequel. I am not going to go into what the book is about (I have some Dead fan friends and they have not read it yet) but I will tell you the end stunned me. I find it astounding that in a genre where I have read some of the comics and watched every episode of the television show I was still completely surprised by the unexpected ending of this book. It was so good that I read it in 24 hours, went to the store, purchased the next book "The Road to Woodbury" and finished that in 24 hours (just for disclosure - the Rise of the Governor was better - but both were good).

What makes "The Walking Dead" like crack .... the story. I can't stress enough that neither the comic, nor the show, nor the books, nor the "Talking Dead" (the talk show about the Walking Dead) are about zombies. All of them are about the people and about the human capacity to accept horror and stress and tragedy. I like to compare it to "Lord of the Flies."

Both stories are about what happens to humans when there are no rules. When there is no authority. When there is no governance or structure or hope. Sure, one was written in the 1950s and was about prepubescent boys and one is about the end of the world as we know it because of a zombie apocalypse. But in the end the stories are about power and evil and the ability of good and hope and innocence to overcome.

The Walking Dead it is about how good people lose their sense of self through loss. The hero of our story Rick Grimes goes from a sheriff who would help anyone, anywhere, anytime to someone who won't even help a lone hitchhiker trying desperately to survive (which he doesn't). It is the loss of family and friends that creates a cold hard character who only looks out for himself and his immediate family. It is a lot more complex and deep than that - but this is a simple blog and not a place where I can detail three seasons of a television show (but for some fun take a look at my page Lessons I Learned from the Walking Dead). Rick is still our hero - but certainly not the man he had been. If you follow the Lord of the Flies connection, Rick would be a combination of Ralph and Simon (to the point that Rick hallucinates as well - haunted by his dead wife and best friend).

Now fans of the show know that The Governor is the anti-hero. He is the evil of humanity all wrapped up in one character. Power hungry, violent for violence sake ... a narcissistic, egocentric, sociopath. The book chronicles how he became that way. How a regular guy in real life became evil in the face of the unthinkable. It is the story of anyone of us - we could all become The Governor in the end. If this were the Lord of the Flies, The Governor would be Jack Merridew. And while the television show seems to be about how Rick comes back from the abyss to rejoin humanity I anticipate that good will win and the character of The Governor will not see the light of season 4 (this is not a spoiler - just my opinion).

So while this is not a summary of the "The Rise of the Governor" it is a recommendation. If you would like things a little gory and a little horrific it is worth the price of admission. If you are already a Dead fan it is a must! I am looking forward to more of these novels coming out because I have to admit, as much as I like the story I am not a big comic book fan. But I suggest you read it after you look in the mirror - because The Governor, he really could be any of us.
On another note .... as I was looking for photos for this blog on AMC.com I saw a comment that asks the question: "Do you think Rick is still in the coma and this is all a dream?" Interesting question. Dead fans feel free to leave your thoughts on this one!


  1. Now you've whetted my appetite - I've already scanned Amazon and places to see where I can obtain the series!
    Glad spring is in the air - bright but very, very cold here in the UK. Maybe I'll settle down to watch the Walking Dead!!!!!

  2. I would love to see what you think of it! It is still cold here as well - but this time of year in New England it is 50 degrees on day and 30 degrees the next.

  3. "Do you think Rick is still in the coma and this is all a dream?"

    Bob Newhart called and wants his shtick back!
    Seriously, I would be so disappointed if that ends up being true.