And in 65 years we have built up a strong tradition of publishing excellence, greedily devouring…ahem…I mean calmly perusing as much poetry and short fiction as comes our way and putting what we think of as the cream-of-the-crop into print. But just because we mainly publish poetry and short literary fiction does not mean that it is all we are willing to publish. WE’LL READ ANYTHING! As long as it is good. Send us your creative non-fiction, send us your plays, and send us speculative fiction and your genre fiction. Admittedly, it is hard to find examples of the last two that scream a healthy combination of awesomeness and quality necessary to see print, but that doesn’t mean we’ll turn you away at the door. If it is great literature, we’ll print it. Period. Just because the likelihood of something being good is very low doesn’t mean you should look down on it. Every once in a while something comes along that combines sharp, smart composition with more-leaning-towards-straight-up-fun content, the result being a piece of art that just plain rocks! Case in point, The Walking Dead — a weekly late night series that you can catch on AMC Sunday nights at 11:00 pm (AST).
Developed, executively produced, and at least partially written by Frank Darabont (the director that translated Stephen King’s work into The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist) right away promises that The Walking Dead will deliver quality. And the series keeps its promise, handing out a little something for everybody like treats at Halloween.
For those of us who lean towards a more formal or literary bent, the script is crisp, entertaining and convincing to the ear. And the players deliver the dialogue superbly and act in a way, if the series keeps on keeping on, that promises Emmy’s in just a few short looks to the horizon. But it’s the cinematography that stops you in your tracks and makes you gape, the pop-corn burning in the microwave as you just can’t tear your eyes from the screen.
In the pilot, our hero, sheriff deputy Rick Grimes, wakes up in the hospital from a gun-shot wound induced coma only to find a world transformed by a zombie apocalypse. Yes, yes, not overly original as Danny Boyle has already put it on the big screen (let’s not talk about who actually wrote the idea first) in 28 Days Later, but it is the first reel of the first episode so we’ll let it ride for now. Rick wanders the halls, disoriented, seeing signs of destruction but no people of any kind present in the rooms, in the halls, at the desks. Signs of struggles are everywhere and even signs of outright battles. And at the end of a long hallway our hero sees his first sign of life … sort of—a double door secured with a two-by-four and a chain-and-padlock bumping and rattling as a group of somethings moan and shuffle and push to get out. And spray-painted on the door, no doubt surreal to sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes but oh so clear to the viewer, is DON’T OPEN. DEAD INSIDE. And of course Rick panics and goes for the elevator despite the building obviously having no power, you on the couch, either in your head or right out loud, screaming don’t do that, you idiot! That’s just a big box! Luckily the buttons are useless and Grimes proceeds to the stairs. Awwww, ok, says the horror viewer, as the stair door swings open and light fills the stairwell. And then bangs shut taking its light with it. No power. No windows. Grimes is on the stairs in a gurney, in total blackness, with only a few matches to light the way. Convenient that he just happened to pick these up at a nursing station, but we don’t care because my GOD! He can only see six inches in front of his face and there may be things in the dark and I was feeling comfortable because I thought he was safe because he made the sane choice and went for the stairs! Darabont and the team of The Walking Dead excel at getting you where you live and doing so with no dialogue but rather with just a bit of acting and some well-placed camera shots and lights (or lack thereof).
For those who want the gross-out in the horror you’ll get it: see episode two and wonder how does one make oneself smell like the dead? By covering oneself with the dead, of course, my darling.
Are you looking for action? Or drama? A simple fist fight in episode three is a straight-forward, run-of-the-mill beating but it’s not, it’s visceral because of how it is shot, how it is blocked, and how it is sounded (I think I just made that film-verb up). The beating isn’t exactly Mortensen dancing for Cronenberg in an Eastern European bathhouse, but, folks, we are definitely moving in that direction.
You get the point. The series is awesome. Check it out because at The Fiddlehead we pride ourselves on decades of publishing literary excellence, enjoying the caviar and fine wine of the printed word, if you will. But every once in a while you just need some good junk food too. So if you have a story or poem that is more fantastic than it is F. Scott Fitzgerald, send it our way. It might be good literature. Hell, it might be great. But even if it isn’t those things, it might be worth a read and a print because it might be good fun. It might be good junk food, like The Walking Dead. Give it a watch. I guarantee you’ll get a mouthful.