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Literature / The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten

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A Black Comedy/horror novel by "Harrison Geillor" that tells the tale of a small Minnesota town forced to face down an invasion of zombies.

When the Zombie Apocalypse hits, college boy Rufus returns to his hometown of Lake Woebegotten to warn his friends and neighbors. However, when he arrives, the situation is more complicated than he had foreseen. The town P. D. has hired Mr. Levitt, a retired school superintendent/serial killer, as their chief zombie hunter, and he's out for blood. The only force that stands in his way is a small group of vigilantes lead by Father Edsel, a Catholic priest, and Daniel Inkfist, a Lutheran pastor. Throw a couple of retired military personnel and an undead bear into the mix, and things are going to get pretty hairy.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Girl: Julie, the waitress at the local diner, turns out to be ex-Israeli military, and quite handy with a pistol.
  • Anyone Can Die: Less than half of the prominent and well-developed characters make it to the end of the book. Rufus, Uncle Otto, Gunther, Daniel, Harry, Bighorn, Ingvar, village idiot “The Narrator”, Eileen, and Levitt all die, all but the last two under tragic and unexpected circumstances.
  • Badass Preacher: Father Edsel beat a fellow priest with a lead pipe after he discovered that priest molesting an altar boy, then got that same priest to listen to his confession for succumbing to the sin of wrath. There are rumors around the town that he once participated in a "real pea-souper" of an exorcism. He is the first resident of the town to kill a zombie (he blows its head off with a shotgun). He then proceeds to organize the Interfaith Anti-Zombie League to protect the town, saves at least one child from being bitten by a zombie, and finally comes up with the plan that rids the town of their infestation once and for all.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Especially when the bear in question is a zombie.
  • BFG: Harry and Stevie Ray from the P. D. go after a zombie infestation in a funeral home with army surplus shotguns described as looking more like something out of a science fiction movie than actual guns.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Lampshaded when Stevie Ray points out that if he goes up into a zombie-filled attic, he'll be toast for this very reason. Subverted in that not only is Harry, the white cop, the first one of the two to die (though not in said attic), Stevie Ray makes it through the whole novel without even being injured.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: On the book's final page, just as the town's survivors are celebrating their victory, one last recently-turned zombie wanders into the local diner, hungry for human flesh.
  • Cassandra Truth: Otto and Ingvar initially think Rufus is crazy when he tries to tell them about the zombie apocalypse.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Julie, who seems to be a passing character at the beginning of the book, turns out to be quite instrumental in studying the zombie plague and ending Mr. Levitt's reign of terror. Even more importantly, Big-Horn Jim, the town crackpot who believes he is a Viking, kills the bear that comes back as a zombie and proceeds in chasing after Mr. Levitt.
  • Closest Thing We Got: After the doctor becomes an early zombie fatality, a paramedic becomes the only medical professional.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Cyrus Bell, the town's weaponry outfitter for the duration of the crisis. He has stockpiled hundreds of weapons, most of them illegal, and is obsessed with numerous wild conspiracy theories. This comes in handy when Father Edsel formulates his endgame against the zombie foe.
  • Eye Scream: Rufus' untimely demise (stabbed through the eye with a modified hunting knife).
  • Genre Savvy: Rufus is very well-versed in zombie fiction and constantly references this during the outbreak, such as discussing the Black Dude Dies First trope and the difficulty of containing outbreaks. He also tries to psychoanalyze Serial Killer Mr. Levitt based on Criminal Minds fanfiction he reads, although he turns out to be Wrong Genre Savvy there.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Rufus, after coming back home, is forced to revert from his former casual profanity-tossing to colorful euphemisms while living with his mother. Stevie Ray is also an example; the foulest words to come out of his mouth are "heck", "darn", and "son of a gun".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mr. Levitt's ultimate demise. He is on the run from a zombie bear and finally kills it by hurling a fragmentary grenade at it. This backfires horribly when he realizes he has been running across an ice-coated lake...and the explosion has caused the ice to crack. Cue death by drowning.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In that some animals turn, too, not just humans.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Father Edsel before he blows the head off of the town's first zombie: "Get thee behind me, Satan."
  • Precision F-Strike: When Otto, who repeatedly chastens his nephew Rufus about his language, starts complaining about how a fuckin' zombie dog bit his fuckin' leg, you know things have gotten serious.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The whole town of Lake Woebegotten is a substitute for the Minnesota town of Lake Woebegone from A Prairie Home Companion, and its author, "Harrison Geillor", is, of course, a substitute for Garrison Keillor.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Dolph is deeply traumatized for the rest of the novel after he mistakes a drunk and stumbling Gunther for a zombie and shoots him.
  • Unexpected Successor : By the 1/3 point of the book, the mayor is missing (killed by his wife), the police chief got killed by a zombie while cleaning out the funeral home, and the three town councilmen are dead at the funeral home, old and sick, and visiting Florida respectively. This leaves part-time deputy Stevie Ray in charge until a new mayor can be elected.
  • Wasteland Elder: Ingvar Knudsen is the oldest guy in town, and while he avoids taking a leadership role during the zombie outbreak, he does open his house to lots of refugees and enjoys both the sense of good deeds and having people to help him around the house. The little kids call him Grandpa Ingvar.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Mr. Levitt plays the game fairly well; he manages to get himself into prison during the initial zombie outbreak, thus remaining safe in a proverbial "shark cage", then gets himself out of prison and manipulates his way into becoming the town's chief zombie hunter. He starts to slip as his blood lust grows insatiable; he fails to get himself elected as mayor due to his "accidentally" murdering humans during a pitched battle with a group of zombies, and his final gambit of unearthing the town's cemeteries and leading the resulting undead army to destroy Lake Woebegotten's inhabitants fail utterly.