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Max Brooks to Discuss Zombies
at UW-Eau Claire Forum Series Event

RELEASED: Oct. 16, 2007

Max Brooks
Max Brooks

EAU CLAIRE — The challenge of fighting the undead will be the focus of a number of activities at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire that will culminate in a Forum address by the preeminent authority on dispatching the relentless, flesh-eating armies of zombies that seem to be everywhere these days.

Max Brooks, the world's self-proclaimed expert on zombie culture, will speak on "Zombie Survival: Preparing for World War Z" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in Zorn Arena.

Related activities include screenings of George Romero's 1968 horror classic, "Night of the Living Dead" (Oct. 25-28), and a day of the living dead at the University Bookstore (Oct. 29) that promises ghoulish snacks, games and prize drawings.

Born in New York City in 1972, Max Brooks was introduced to the living dead in a traumatic childhood incident that he refuses to discuss. Since then he has devoted much of his life to studying the undead and ways to eradicate them — a tireless search that has taken him to over 30 countries and territories in Europe, Russia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Arctic and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is the leading western student in the Afro-Caribbean martial art of Mkunga-Lalem, the world's oldest and most effective anti-ghoul fighting skill.

An Emmy Award winner for his writing for "Saturday Night Live," Brooks — son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks — is the author of "The Zombie Survival Guide" (2003), a deadpan illustrated guide to fighting the living dead. His debut novel, "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War," followed in 2006. Structured as a collection of interviews (influenced by Studs Turkel's "The Great War"), the book recounts a ten-year global war with undead human killing machines that begins with a virus outbreak in China. An instant New York Times Bestseller, "World War Z" is now in development for Paramount Pictures by Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions.

"'World War Z' is more than just an endless succession of filmable set pieces," wrote Entertainment Weekly. "With his surprisingly realistic takes on government inadequacy, disaster preparedness, and public panic, Brooks subconsciously references worldwide crises from 9/11 to tribal civil wars to Hurricane Katrina, producing a debut that will grab you as tightly as a dead man's fist."

"Most zombie zealots seem to agree that the zombie renaissance has something to do with the anxieties of life after Sept. 11," wrote The New York Times. "Zombies, Mr. Brooks said, are the perfect goblin for such times, in part because they suggest broad social collapse, when anyone — a policeman, a nurse, a friend — can turn into a force of evil. With a werewolf or vampire, all the evil is concentrated on a single creature; with zombies, the evil is everywhere."

"They go hand in hand with apocalyptic scenarios," Brooks said. "You can't have one zombie. You've got to have millions of them. Society has to be breaking down. And zombies aren't in conventional horror settings. Zombies find you. The sun comes up, and they're still there. You call the cops, and they're still there. They create a chain reaction of societal collapse.

"Every time I want to hear the zombie genre is over, I call my agents," Brooks said. "Every day there's a new movie or TV movie, a new video game, a new board game. That's the crazy part about zombies: they're not dying."

The Forum program will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing. Brooks' presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and an informal reception in the Arena.

Tickets for The Forum are $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center, and will also be sold at the door.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for The Forum.

Max Brooks was 12 years old when he saw his first zombie movie. "I saw 'Night of the Living Dead,'" Brooks said. "The idea of a creature that was driven by pure instinct to kill, eat and multiply scared the hell out of me."

"Night of the Living Dead" will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 25-28, in Davies Theatre. The dead are reanimated as flesh-eating ghouls who roam the Pennsylvania countryside devouring the inhabitants in George Romero's 1968 horror classic. Tickets for the University Activities Commission presentation are $2 ($1 for UW-Eau Claire students) at the Service Center and at the door.

To further prepare for Brooks' tutorial on anti-zombie procedures, the University Bookstore will allow patrons to train in zombie destruction simulations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, via the Xbox 360 game Dead Rising. The bookstore will hold a drawing for a copy of the game, as well as for a copy of Resident Evil 4 for Nintendo Wii, and copies of Max Brooks' books. A smorgasbord of ghoulish treats will be available. For more details, contact the University Bookstore in Davies Center, 715-836-2171.

-30-

JS/NW

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