I got a good tip from a dear friend that James Breakwell wrote a book.
I don’t know a lot of things that most people know because I tend to spend a lot of time parenting and just generally lamenting the freedom and capricious abandon with which I cluelessly lived my life before having kids.
But I was told that he was looking for reviews of his book. And I wrote to him and said, “hey, I’ll read your book and tell people about it in a time span of two weeks, tops.”
That was a month ago.
And I’m not as ashamed as I should be but I am a little bit. Ashamed.
Anyway, here’s my review of James Breakwell’s “Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.”
Spoiler alert: I liked it.
Pre-order it on Amazon. All the cool kids are doing it.
“Only Dead on the Inside”: A Review For the End of the World
By STACEY GROSS
I read Max Brooks’ the Zombie Survival Guide when I was like twenty years old. Or something equally unenlightened. Like twenty-three. I thought it was great. Yeah, guns! Dude, Solanum. Cool, now I can plan out a cute AND practical wardrobe for the end of the world.
It was great.
Then, I had kids.
And I continued to watch things like The Walking Dead, against my better judgment.
I’ve often wondered what I would do with my spawn should the unthinkable happen and the zombie apocalypse actually come to pass. And I’ve become painfully aware that my pre-parenthood plan needs drastic revision. Like, basically, burning. Just kill it. Kill that old plan with fire. Because none of that crap works once you’ve got a tiny human to keep alive.
I feel like it would be The Road meets pretty much anything on the Discovery Channel during Shark Week.
Enter James Breakwell. I’ll admit, I’m a little ashamed of not having known that he was the guy who put those funny conversations with his kids on Facebook. But I’m raising two five-year-old nasty women in training. Alone. It’s a lot. When I do get online it’s to ask Google whether symptom X in context Y equals a required trip to the emergency room, or to look up ways to make wine a socially acceptable portion of everyday situations.
Jury’s still out on that, by the by, but I’m thinking that I could become a bartender, or buy a vineyard, and make that dream come true.
Anyway. My unattainable dreams are in no way relevant to this discussion.
This is a discussion on Breakwell’s book, which will be out this October, and which you need to buy if you like anything at all that he’s ever put on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any of the other part of the internets.
“Only Dead on the Inside” is Breakwell’s attempt to rectify the woeful lack of parenting manuals for the end of the world. At this point, the zombie apocalypse is a well-covered academic topic. There are Philosophy books that draw all of their examples of high-thinkin’ experiments from zombies. There are science manuals based on zombies. There are survival manuals by legitimate entities like the CDC that are written with a slant toward the undead.
But no one has actually officially addressed what would happen if parenting actually did the unthinkable and got harder.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
Because I’m Miss Cleo (call me now, chil’).
You’re thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for bronchitis, or a 100-plus-page book about parenting and zombies.”
But your teenager is right. You don’t know anything about it.
Breakwell’s book is full of pictures. Little three-box comic strips (as well as some really fun graphs for those of you who, like me, are great big old nerd faces) are a huge part of the delivery system for humor in this book, which is great, because it not only makes the reading go faster, it is a recognizable form of literature for all parents. Because I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve grown very accustomed to books with pictures as a mother of two five-year-olds.
Not even going to lie to you right now, I have spent ten years of my life studying writing and literature in an academic setting, and since I had kids I get a little skeert when someone hands me some grown folks’ readin’.
And what’s great about this book is that it addresses actual problems that parents have anyway, only in the context of zombies. Because, really, it only takes an undead human cadaver intent on consuming you alive added to the situation to make your child’s refusal to eat anything but Sugar Smacks (you can appropriate it any way you want, Kellogs, but they’ll never be Honey Smacks in my heart or in my mind) seem suddenly manageable.
That’s what I took from this book. Through Breakwell’s honest and irreverent discussions on everything from psychologically manipulating your picky eater into consuming nutritious food to how to handle discipline in the age of apocalypse, you learn to take what often seem like massive problems for modern parents and put them into perspective. As Breakwell says in the beginning, the apocalypse won’t come on all at once. It’s likely already quietly simmering somewhere off in the distance.
Much like my temper, most of the time, when my children are present.
What I liked most about the book is that it reminded me how easy it is to lose my shit, and how close I am to it as a personal baseline. It reminded me to take a moment before reacting to my kids and honestly evaluate how important it is that I break up this particular gang fight (seriously, twins are never friends…it’s like the Sharks and the Jets at war every day, all day long…snapping included), for instance, or whether it matters at all that my hard-drawn and defended boundaries surrounding acceptable bedtime procedure are popular.
What I like about Breakwell is that he’s a guy.
I mean, it’s not like he made a conscious decision to be one or anything, but still. I love parenting humor. It’s kind of what I’m basing my continued livelihood on, to be honest. But it’s still a primarily female genre. So it’s really great to get funny dads in on this gig and hear their unique perspectives on parenting and and the many tests of patience that go along with it. Also, it makes us moms look less like whiny little girls if dads are whining right along with us.
Look, if you like sassy honesty, and zombies, and sometimes your kids or being a parent but not always, you probably ought to pick up a copy of “Only Dead on the Inside.” It’ll be at your favorite Barnes and Noble (the one with the Starbucks inside, represent) and other retailers this October.
Just in time to inject some humor into your churning mind, which will be flooded by then with renewed existential concern over Rick’s little daughter and whether or not he knows that Carl’s name isn’t “Coral” for another season.
Seriously, guys. Every time he says Carl’s name I want to set my ears a little bit on fire.
But that’s another story.
Buy the book. Read the book. Live the dream.
That’s it for now, homies.
James Breakwell has been profiled by USA Today, Us Weekly, Daily Mail, Metro, The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan, Better Homes and Gardens, The Huffington Post, Upworthy, theCHIVE, Bored Panda, various ABC and FOX TV news affiliates and countless other TV, radio, and internet outlets. His articles have appeared in Reader’s Digest, The Federalist, and AskMen. People in India have seen his kids in newspapers there, according to the press release for this book. I don’t know why, either, but it sounds badass. And he’s done a bunch of other stuff too. You can find him at:
@XplodingUnicorn on Twitter,
ExplodingUnicorn on Facebook,
@James_Breakwell on Instagram, and
James_Breakwell on SnapChat
If you have time to do any of those things between parenting and asking yourself hard questions about your life choices up to this point.
“Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” is published by BenBella Books, Inc. and distributed by Perseus Distribution. It will be available in October for $16.95 US ($22.99 CAN).