Read Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess Online


The compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. Have you ever imagined what it would be like to kill someone? Wondered, in your darkest secret thoughts, about the taste of human flesh? What if you woke up and began your morning by devoting the rest of your life to a murderous rampage, a never-ending cannibalistic spree? And what if you were only one of thousands wThe compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. Have you ever imagined what it would be like to kill someone? Wondered, in your darkest secret thoughts, about the taste of human flesh? What if you woke up and began your morning by devoting the rest of your life to a murderous rampage, a never-ending cannibalistic spree? And what if you were only one of thousands who shared the same compulsion? Well, today's your lucky day: in fact, by this afternoon, the predators will outnumber the prey. Pontypool Changes Everything depicts just such an epidemic. It's the compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. You catch it through conversation, and once it has you, it leads you on a strange journey - into another world where the undead chase you down the streets of the smallest towns and largest cities....

Title : Pontypool Changes Everything
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781550223569
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 276 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Pontypool Changes Everything Reviews

  • Nate D
    2019-06-04 21:21

    I have a thing for experimental and deconstructed genre fiction. Particularly sci-fi and horror. Having seen the cool, clever Pontypool film, I knew this was about zombie-ism spread via language, for a kind of pulp Ben Marcus, straighter but still sharp . But the film turns out to be an aside to this book, a riff, an alternate version, a parallel, a development cutting across this book at a right angle with only a single character and a couple plot-points' intersection. But then, the deconstructed format of this book means that it's actually entirely composed of riffs, asides, rethinkings, and alternate versions. It's almost impossible to get a handle on the prime level of understanding at the bottom of the book since it's always echoing back up to the top, altered, particularly in the superior first half, titled "Autobiography", which may detail the early stages of an outbreak of vicious cannibalism, or the experiences of a garbage man who loses his grip, or some combination or outside imagining thereof. In the second half, "Novel", we eventually get to a chapter called "Zombies Explained to Us" which contains many intellectually thrilling (though not always action-reflected) ideas about subliminal infection and reality as host, including this: "...almost instantly, the virus appears in a concept of itself. This causes all sorts of havoc." And indeed, as the novel collapses into successive self-images, all is absolutely havoc.These problems with consciousness and deep-language structures are often cited as the possible source for certain idiosyncrasies of the wording that pepper the novel, often in paragraph-long bursts. That's possible, but whereas they've been called gibberish, they seem to me more like just very beautiful and original description, whether disease-or-mental-illness-induced or not. Listen:The view through the binoculars is cool. The lemon-colored leaves on the undersides of branches are crisp. The sky is fixed through the trees in an ice-blue lattice. A refrigerator. Greg shivers.Now, Greg may be having some perceptual or synaesthetic problems here, but I don't even need to justify it so far. It's just lovely, a refreshment from the zombie-movie brutality and gore that often surges to the forefront.There have been two killings. Maybe a third. And nearly a fourth. But for now, the killings are a pair, a couple. And like couples do, the Killings look for what they have in common. They stand in a line like all the other couples. Like other couples, the killings share financial burden, discovering that as two, they can afford so much more. They can take trips and buy things that as single nouns or verbs they never could. The Killings are combining their relatively limited horizons into something without limits, something dreamy.

    2019-06-07 02:35

    Trippy, unnerving horror. Just when you think you're already in the deep end, 'Pontypool changes everything' submerges you even further. This novel is crazy. But crazy-good. It's like reading the fiction of a certified lunatic, albeit a very talented one. Simply put, Pontypool is a zombie story, but one unlike anything you've ever read before. Burgess doesn't just turn the genre on its head, he decapitates it, then sews on a Frankenstein-like replacement made from sections of his own fractured psyche. Breathing new life into an overplayed genre, Burgess envisions an undead-type infection (something akin to '28 Days Later') that is spread through sound, making for an incredible play on words and use of language. The novel follows a number of strange characters with their own agendas who are navigating an epidemic as it increasingly infects everyone around them. Burgess's writing is poetic, unhinged, and above all genuinely frightening. It does, however, have a habit of losing you in places. So be warned. As insane and experimental as much of it is, the book is also incredibly addictive and compelling, even when you're not sure what you're reading or where the plot is going. You just have to hold on, white-knuckled, and go along with the ride as it whips you along. It really feels like you may get thrown from this rollercoaster every now and then, but hold tight. You might get banged up a bit, but the ride is totally worth it.

  • RubyTombstone [With A Vengeance]
    2019-05-31 00:38

    I wish I had the words to tell you how wonderful this book really is. It's a book full of lyrical prose, beautiful and terrible imagery, important and wondrous ideas, humour and hardcore horror. Centred around the idea of a zombie virus transmitted by language, the book touches on eye-opening concepts incorporating semiotics and neurolinguistics, as well as tapping into what it means to have a brain injury or mental illness. The horror comes not only from the physical suffering of the victims in the story, but from the idea of what it might be to lose control of one's own faculties, or to be fundamentally misunderstood by the rest of society. There are the themes of forgiveness, taboo, addiction and family which also run through the book.There are books which have taken me an extraordinarily long time to read because the writing style was so dense, but this is certainly not one of them. I did take a long time reading it, but because I wanted to re-examine every paragraph to see what I missed on first reading. I got the sense that I could continue to re-read this book for years to come and still discover new ideas in its pages. The chapters are mercifully short, which makes the book seem like it flies by regardless. The book is in two parts, and I have to say, the first was more cohesive than the second. In the second part, Burgess seems to get overexcited - trying to express too many ideas all at once, and not exploring any of them in great depth. In the Afterword, Burgess practically apologises for the book, and admits to having written the book as an experiment for himself, never really believing it would be read. I can certainly forgive him this, but I understand that the book may not be everyone's cup of tea. It is by no means a mainstream read, and readers who dislike horror, sexual taboos or the surreal may not be able to see past that.I won't give away any spoilers but near the end, Chapter 23 (The Worst Winter Ever) is wonderful. Even if you put the book down and decide not to finish it, please skip to this chapter and read. The chapter consists of dozens of stand-alone vignettes of people experiencing the zombie apocalypse. It is a great example of Burgess' writing style, even without the neurolinguistic theories.In case anyone is in any doubt, I do believe that this is a GREAT and IMPORTANT book, and it will join the handful of my all time favourites to be read again and again.NOTE - Yes there was a movie made about 10 years after the book. Both movie and book are brilliant, and Tony Burgess wrote the movie's screenplay. They are very different stories, in fact the only thing they have in common is the virus. It really doesn't matter if you see one or the other first.

  • Sean Fitzpatrick
    2019-06-04 19:23

    Pontypool Changes Everyting defies definition in a lot of ways. One of the biggest complaints that gets leveed against it (at least by people that I know) is that it is supposed to be a book about a zombie outbreak and, yet, the zombies in the book are more conceptual than literal. It is difficult to feel afraid of the zombies. But the novel's abstraction is its greatest strength because, at its core, it is a indefatigably complex horror novel.The scariness in Pontypool Changes Everything (which, especially in a book like this, should be separated from its horror elements) stems from the virus itself. The idea that a lethal contagion could spread through language is unbelievably terrifying, mostly because the virus can be spread through the act of telling somebody not to speak (and therefore spread the virus). The fright of a disease that cannot be cured because it disposes with communication is insurmountable in the novel. This is why the book immediately interrupts its own intelligibility. The book, through a great and absolutely-not-heavy-handed metafictional turn, is infected with the very disease that infects its subjects. It lacks the ability to communicate and rages at the reader because of that incommunicability. Consequently, the destruction that the virus produces is total, which brings to mind my second point.The arbitrary violence that the disease produces in people is shocking. The fright may not come from the zombie attack, but the novel, through the ingenious device of giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of the infected, adds terror by showing how the infected people transform from relatively high-functioning individuals to snarling murderers. The manifestation of the violence in the novel is completely untempered. Once the first zombie enters the story, the gore piles up. This is, without a doubt, the most horrific book I have ever read. From images of patients being liquified under a crush of people at a local doctor's office to scenes where a father administering painkillers to his drug-addicted infant son to simply stop the boy from going into withdrawal, from passages depicting a TV news anchor engaging in forced pan-sexual intercourse with his interns to the dreamlike moments wherein a brother and sister subsist on zombie meat and eventually copulate and produce a zombie baby, the book is full of imagery and complex symbolism that is hauntingly disturbing and, sometimes, shockingly hilarious. The extremity of the horror in the novel never feels over-the-top, however, because the story is about what people do to one another and what people are capable of when their minds are pushed to the extremities of aphasic rage. The books is also not simple-minded, and does not make the zombies the solely evil presence in the story. People are equally responsible for horrific deeds, and it is the relentless depiction of human depravity that makes the book difficult to get through.But just because it is difficult does not mean it is not worthwhile. The novel contains beautifully written passages that would be a wonder for anybody interested in the written word. Furthermore, Burgess makes the reader painfully aware of the beauty of Ontario's northern regions while, simultaneously, showing the depravity of the people who live there. Structurally, the novel is divided into two vexing parts: Autobiography and Novel. The play of fiction and nonfiction is difficult, especially because the events in both parts are unrealistic. The dipartite form gestures toward the complex nature of the human mind's ability to understand things. Basically, humans need to know whether something is real or fake. This fundamental categorization of events is the foundation for the rest of our understanding. By depriving readers of this basic understanding between factual and fictional, Burgess makes the story much more unsettling and destabilizing. Did language really cause people to kill and eat each other in Pontypool? The reader is left to decide. Pontypool Changes Everything is complex to the core, but this makes it fun and unpredictable. Many of the shocks and scares are incredibly surprising, and the story also contains touching and heartbreaking moments of desperate intimacy between people that are simply going to die. The deadly fatalism of the story makes it one for contemplation. From the outset, it is known that many characters will not make it out of the book alive. Like viewers watching Hitchcock's "Psycho" for the first time and seeing Janet Leigh get killed in the first third of the film, the reader of Pontypool will desperately grasp for characters and subjectivities to latch on to. But there are none to be had. Instead, the reader looks for why humanity is killing itself and how a human invention such as language can infect the brain. It is a book that has especial relevance now, with the ever-present manipulation of images and events by news networks. The corruptibility of language and the human mind is the main focus of the story, which is both entertaining and enlightening.I imagine a lot of readers will hear the concept of the book (Zombies are infected through language?!?!) and be put off by its apparent lack of believability. But to those readers who say that, I question the validity of any zombie virus -- can radiation REALLY produce the zombies that crop up in Romero's (and many of his imitator's) films? are the zombies in 28 Days Later REALLY just infected with rage? does the Necronomicon in Evil Dead REALLY just raise the dead through the utterance of its ritualistic passages? By bringing these works up, I do not mean to disparage the efforts of their creators. Instead, I intend to point out the intrinsic flimsiness of the zombie-horror genre. And yet, the genre is thrilling and thought-provoking. If you cannot suspend your disbelief with this book, then you do not deserve Pontypool Changes Everything.

  • Paul Mcfarland
    2019-06-06 23:14

    This is a story that is difficult to describe in a few paragraphs. It is on one level an account of the spread of an infectious disorder across the area around a small town in Ontario, Canada. It is on another level an attempt, I believe, to give an insight into madness. It works I feel on both levels. As a Zombie Novel if produces several new ideas, chief among them the idea that an infection can be spread by language itself. This is an idea that was approached by Henry Kuttner in his short story "Nothing but Gingerbread Left" and to an extent by Stephen King in his novel “Cell”. However, Mr. Burgess plows enough entirely new ground in this book to be a good country mile from anything derivative. This is not going to be a book for everyone. I suspect that folks seeking a Zombie tale are not going to want to take the effort to get through this one. I also suspect that some folks will be offended by a goodly amount of gore and a bit of slightly warped sexuality. But if you are up for a challenge, I would really recommend this read. Mr. Burgess has made a very close approach to “Finnegans Wake” with Zombies. I thought the story was good fun and give it an easy five for its value both as entertainment and as somewhat of a peek into what paranoid schizophrenia might be like.

  • Siri
    2019-06-08 03:15

    I liked the movie and was fascinated by its premise that a deadly virus could be created by and spread through the spoken English language.The book version, though, is kinda like if the screenplay contracted the virus it depicts and becomes a weird disturbing verbal slosh. The author apologizes for the book in the afterword (with the "I was a heady young semiotician!" excuse) and rather than coming off like a sadistic jackass, it made me appreciate his sense of humor and the lengths he went to to rework the story for a broader audience on film.

  • Lewis Rees
    2019-05-27 01:18

    Rarely do I find a book that affects me in the same way that Pontypool did.That is, rarely do I find a book so utterly terrible that I had to stop reading it.Ostentibly the basis for the brilliant film Pontypool (Although, at 70% of the way through the novel, nothing had turned up besides the main character of said film, the eponomous town and the virus.)The thing is, the core conceit here is absolutely brilliant: A fresh, inventive take on a genre that's been played out in every conceivable way, on every conceivable stage. However, I found Pontypool changes everything to be an utterly trying effort with characters I found impossible to sympathize with. True, there was some decent imagery, and I can see a genuinely good book hiding beneath a surface of self-indulgent experimentation and trying post-modernism. Had the book been stripped to the bones and left us with this fresh idea, I would no doubt be raving about it.Usually I can't stand it when a film doesn't stick to the story of the book, at least in some ways, but in this case it worked one hundred perecent to the film's advantage. I have never read a book so terrible that got made into a film that good before. I implore you all to skip this poor effort at a book and instead see the far superior film it inspired.

  • Ben
    2019-05-19 02:28

    As anyone who saw me reading this is well aware, this isn't really a book about zombies. I mean, it is. But it's also about language. Burgess' fascination with language and semiotics underpins this entire work, a fact that endows the novel with a linguistic playfulness while allowing the author to toy and tinker with ideas of lanuage, concept and understanding. The novel sort of meanders, occasionally becoming surreal and almost dadaist, and though this may detract from the work as a whole, it doesn't interfere with Burgess' main concerns... If language creates the framework of conception, what is lost when our grasp of language disappears? Do the specificities of syntax really root us in reality? Is language what prevents us from a life of zombiehood? If we cannot understand each other, will it help to try to crawl into each other's mouths?I enjoyed this book less than I anticipated, but I also found it more thought-provoking than I thought I would.

  • Katie
    2019-05-22 02:30

    This is a tough one. The use of language and writing style in this book is a bit overcooked for my taste I think. You know what it's like? It's like this one time I took this turbo kick class and it was so over choreographed that I spent the whole time just trying to figure out each move and by the time I did we were on to another one. So in the end I just felt confused and didn't get near the workout that I could have. It's like that.

  • ipso
    2019-05-21 19:29

    Edit: An experiment to riff on the book’s self-conscious style in jabber didn't work too well. Calling an author’s first few chapters pretentious, in a review where the first two paragraphs are overly pretentious. Calling and author drunk and stoned, while being drunk and stoned. Talking about lack of structure in a style itself without structure – etc. I retract.

  • Tobin Elliott
    2019-06-12 02:28

    Dear Mrs. Burgess,As much as it pains me to write this letter, I feel I must. My son, Tobin, has now tried to play with Tony in Pontypool on two occasions, and each time, he came home much earlier than expected because...and these are his words, he "just couldn't stand to be subjected to that stuff anymore."Now, I'm sure your Tony is a wonderful person, and seems to do very well with other kids, so I'm sure it's more something to do with my son than it is Tony. I have, in fact, had to write similar missives to the mothers of Tom Clancy, Chuck Palahniuk, and most recently, Nick Cutter (who is, by the way, the nicest person, but my son simply cannot bear to have a play date with him anymore).You may be wondering why my son is acting like this. He said he spent about 15 pages with Tony this morning, and in that time, he said, while some interesting stuff happened, for the most part, he claimed that Tony just seemed to go on and on with a lot of "flowery, overblown description" and seemed to refuse to get to the point of anything. I believe his specific term was, "Mom, there was a whole lotta feathers, and not much chicken."My son always did like Kim Mitchell, though, he hasn't seem much of him lately. Still quotes him occasionally, though.Anyway, my impression--reading between the lines, you might say--of my son's issue is that he believes Tony is highly intelligent, and quite good at what he does, but what he does is simply not for my son. I know Tobin was supposed to give Tony somewhere between one and five stars after the play date, but because it was aborted, he's decided to not give Tony any stars at all. I hope you understand.As I said, we'd scheduled a several hours long play date for Tobin and Tony, and, both times, Tobin left within minutes. No hard feelings, but Tobin will not be having any more play dates with Tony.Signed,Tobin's mother.

  • Robert Beveridge
    2019-06-05 00:24

    Tony Burgess, Pontypool Changes Everything (ECW Press, 1998)And the award for most-adapted screenplay goes to Bruce McDonald's Pontypool, one of the best films of 2008. I say “most-adapted” because Burgess' screenplay for the film and the book Burgess wrote ten years before the film was released are two entirely different animals. One can't really say that the book is better than the movie or vice versa when comparing them against one another; they must be looked at as two entirely separate, or at best tangentially related, pieces of work. That said, the movie is better than the book (and according to his afterword, Mr. Burgess agrees with me). While I'd recommend the movie to anyone, the book requires a certain mindset, as well as an ability to put up with (or enjoy) writing that can only be described as hallucinatory; you'll often wonder what it is, exactly, you're reading. Also in that afterword, Burgess mentions that he wrote the book just after graduating university with a semiotics degree. Be warned, he uses it extensively, and not just in the inventive method of viral transmission that underlies both book and film. (I should also mention as a side note for my American readers that ECW Press, despite its recent forays into the memoirs of professional wrestlers, has nothing to do with Extreme Championship Wrestling—though since those memoirs are the only ECW books widely available in America, one can be forgiven for thinking so.)In the movie, we see the genesis of the plague. In the book, the plague has always existed; it has evolved along with humans. As with many zombie plagues, no one really knows what triggered it, though a few hypotheses are offered by various people throughout the book. Also unlike the movie, which focuses on Grant Mazzy (who is changed from a television personality into a radio DJ), the book is an ensemble piece. Mazzy, in fact, is the only major character in the book to survive the transition relatively intact. You will meet very few people here you recognize, if you've seen the film. The book is divided into two sections. The first of them follows Les Reardon, a mentally ill drama coach, as he wanders through the beginnings of the zombie plague looking for his wife and infant son (this section of the book is called Autobiography, by the way). We have to wonder, though, given his mental condition, how much of what he sees is real. Then comes the second part of the book (Novel), which focuses on two other characters, Julie and Jim. They are the children of the zombie couple Les Reardon stole a car from in Autobiography, and one of the few places the two parts of the novel cross is in showing that scene from a different perspective early in Novel. I have not tried to outline a plot in that synopsis because (a) the plot of each section of the book is entirely different (though both do move toward a single point; pay attention, however, or you'll miss the single sentence that connects the two), and (b) plot is, at best, a tertiary consideration in Pontypool Changes Everything. This is a book that is about its language more than anything else (kind of the literary equivalent of a Godard film). This is, of necessity, going to make it a vertical-market item, and I should stress here that you shouldn't by the book just because you liked the movie, in case you haven't already gotten that from what's above. That said, of the writers who engage in this sort of literary masturbation, Burgess is one of the most readable I've come across; he's certainly orders of magnitude better than, say, Claude Simon. Actually, now that I think about it, there are some parallels to be made with Georges Bataille (especially in Novel), and because I'm thick, I completely missed the fact that the entire Novel section is an allusion to Truffaut until just now (Jules and Jim? Yes, I caught the reference, you'd have to be an idiot not to, but I never made the structural connection until I started writing this paragraph). Given that, while Pontypool Changes Everything is probably a serviceable introduction to this kind of writing, you may be better off starting with a book whose shock value is up front and in your face (the classic example, and my strongest recommendation, would be Bataille's Story of the Eye); Burgess is just as interested in transgressive realms here, and if you can't make it through Story of the Eye there's stuff in Novel that's guaranteed to squick you out, but Burgess' aim is to seduce the reader with Autobiography, a much more conventional (as regards its conformation to societal norms) piece of writing. There's a lot to be said here about the breakdown of society and how humans go back to being savages, but I'm probably not the one to say it.My rating for this book has been all over the place; I've changed it four times as I've been writing this review, in fact, as I understand more about what (I think, anyway) Burgess was trying to do. Thank your lucky stars Pontypool was directed by Bruce McDonald instead of Godard (or any of the other New Wave directors who may still be alive and working); he probably would have tried to make a film out of the book, rather than Burgess' endlessly-modified screenplay. There are very few books I've read that I'd consider unfilmable, and this is one of them. I'm still not entirely sure I liked it, per se, though I respect what Burgess was trying to do with it (more so now that I've made all those connections). And now I think it's even more of a vertical-market book than I did originally; it's not for semioticians, it's not for zombie fans, it's for semiotician zombie fans. There can't be all that many of those around. ***

  • Brendan
    2019-05-26 00:25

    Somewhere in Northern Ontario, near a town called Pontypool, a rabies-like virus has made the jump from biological threat to meme, riding existing sounds from one person to the next and driving them mad. The poor bastards who get infected first lose touch with reality, and then, in frustration, they attack the people around them in a horrorshow of gore and sudden violence. But before they become violent, they spend a lot of time walking around, speaking words that are more or less nonsense, but carry the same infectious meme that overwhelmed them. Oh, in case I'm being too cryptic, they're zombies.It's a compelling read, but a challenging one. A few thoughts: The book tells the story of the outbreak from a variety of viewpoints, following several different characters as they descend down the rabbit hole of the disease, then shifting to the omniscient narrator to provide rapid-fire descriptions of the wide-spread ramifications of the outbreak. Burgess' writing style employs a deep vocabulary and a sudden brutality that serves the mesmerizing nature of the story and the disease well. It also uses a free-wheeling narrative style that's pretty disconcerting and difficult to follow. I understand this to be the idea that the book's story is breaking down in sense the same way the zombies' minds are breaking down. One of the driving horrors of the book is the invisibility of the disease -- there are several characters whom we suspect are infected, but may in fact just have gone mad in a kind of contact high. Some of the events toward the end of the book are so bizarre that it's difficult to tell what we're supposed to make of them: are they supposed to have happened? If so, not enough explanation. Are they fantasies in one of the insane minds? If so, which one, given that the narrator doesn't help us distinguish that. Or perhaps that's the point, that we're going just as mad from our detached narrator's chair. In the Afterward to this new edition (published after the movie was made), the author apologizes for the book, suggesting that it isn't as good as he would like but that he resisted tampering with it. He confesses that he wrote it shortly after graduating with a degree in semiotics, and there are bits that only make sense if you have that rare bit of jargon installed in your brain. He throws around words like syntagm and paradigm and linguistic terms like dipthong. It's not too overwhelming, but clearly reflects his recent grad school experience. Alas, the book doesn't hold together for me in its conclusion. I can't say whether this reflects a narrative flaw or my own inability to parse the increasingly mad events that occur in the late pieces of the book, or if another read would clear it up for me. But ultimately I came away less satisfied than I was with the movie version of the same narrative (which evolves in an entirely different way).It's a good book, better than many of the straight-forward zombie stories that focus just on killing and use conventional storytelling styles. Worth a read if you like capital L literature and zombies.

  • Andrew
    2019-05-31 23:23

    I so desperately wanted to like this book, given its pedigree. Sadly, however, it did nothing for me. Aside from a few instances of better-than-average wordplay (the linguistic/semiotic description of the disease, primarily), it was an uninteresting exercise that, personally, felt absent of all character. As a result, the social associations fell to the ground, limp and lifeless. I can see where and why it might work for other horror fans, but without any strong desire to associate with or understand the whys and hows of this world, I struggled to make it through to the end. Two stars for those all-too brief moments of intriguing wordplay, but I cannot recommend the book otherwise.

  • Josh
    2019-05-20 02:20

    The concept is entirely facinating and some of the situations in the book are downright terrifying. However, the book as a whole is a poetic mess. It's poetry/prose fusion is more confusing than anything and hundered my enjoyment of the book. I loved how the book portrayed the after-effects of the event as well. An amazing idea but better realized in the Bruce Macdonald fil madaptaton in my opinion.

  • John Noonan
    2019-06-15 19:17

    It's fine.I mean, that's it. It's fine.It's a novel about the disease of language, in which words no longer hold meaning to frustrated sufferers. It's an interesting idea washed away by convoluted prose. Shame.One of the rare instances where the film is better.

  • David Agranoff
    2019-06-05 02:15

    I discovered this novel from watching the film based loosely on the novel. The film Pontypool was released a few years back and quickly gained a rep for being a well written and composed low budget zombie film. When I saw it I thought it was a creative spin on the tired genre, most interesting at it's core was a original concept of the the zombie virus being transferred not by blood or bites but trhough human language. I was interested in novel because it was written by Burgess who also wrote the screen, and during the commentary track he said the novel had a larger scope.Probably due to it's thin budget the movie takes place at a small radio station in Ontario, and focuses on the main character an aging former shock jock named Grant Mazzy. Mazzy keeping his career alive by doing weather reports on backwater radio. The film gets a lot of of it's rich tones by Stephen McHattie's performance as Mazzy. Since the setting is confined mostly to the station the actors have to carry a lot of the story. It's a character driven horror film, that manages to transcend it's budget like a lot of great low budget horror films. So I was excited by the idea of reading the book. This is a rare case where I think the movie is a lot better than the source material. They are very, very different stories and while they share Grant Mazzy as a main character and plot device the novel lacks the vivid strength of character which drove the film. Burgess is an excellent wordsmith, I can honestly say it's some of the smoothest and interesting prose I have read in a long time. That being said writing pretty paragraphs and telling a good story are two totally different things. I spent a lot of my time reading this novel confused, and according to some of the online reviews I was wasn't alone. I don't mind being confused if the story is exciting and it's important that the confusion is paid off with answers. There are some intense and powerful moments in this book that's why I kept reading even though I was often frustrated and confused by the lack of clear narrative. Since the zombie outbreak is transferred through the language there are some very well composed moments of suspense that happen inside the mind of the infected. I also enjoyed the moments where some characters tried hard not speak at all. This novel is clever, perhaps a bit to clever for it's own good. Could the novel itself spiral into maddess of disrupted language like the victims in the story. Maybe, but I didn't really see that either. It's an interesting experiment, one I don't think worked. I'll admit many I didn't get it, but I am a pretty savvy reader, who has personally played with experimental narratives, so if I don't get it then it is a good chance most readers will be lost. So here is the hard part for me, I respect the well written inventive prose but can't make much sense of the story. This made the book a slog, and I can't say I enjoyed much of it. The movie expressed the idea in a more clearly, and succeded as a story.

  • Kate Sherrod
    2019-05-30 20:34

    This it's my year for completely bugnuts reading, it would seem. Pontypool Changes Everything is a bizarre maelstrom of language-drunk Ontario gothic in the vein of the famously gory and disgusting Avatar comic Crossed. Deep in that vein. Tearing that vein out with snaggly bloodstained teeth and flinging it around like a mad dog. A mad dog that quotes Ovid and makes weird puns.It has some of the trappings of a (yawn) zombie story -- probably just enough of same to piss off serious zombie fans looking for the mixture, same as before -- but it is so much more interesting than that, that I refuse to use the Z word again in this post.*For one thing, it's very interestingly, sometimes surreally, written, with lines like "The tofu cube of brain walks down the wall on its slippery corners and covers the black spider hole left by the bullet." I can totally see, in my mind's eye, what a Jacen Burroughs drawing of that would look like. Totally. But there are humdrum zombie novels full of lines like that.No, what really sets Pontypool Changes Everything apart is the weirdo literary accomplishment it represents, for not only does it depict a highly virulent disease that is transmitted via spoken language (yeah, if the nam-shub/meme/language games were your favorite part of Snow Crash, here's a new book for your favorites shelf), but it also puts the reader pretty much directly takes the reader inside the subjective experience of the infected; every single viewpoint character (at least until the weirdo pseudo-pastoral last chapter or so) is in some stage of losing his or her grip on ordinary thought processes and language (the first symptom of the disease is aphasia), and once the strangeness of the resulting prose settles into the reader's brain, well, we're already slavering through suburban Toronto and the forests beyond the 'burbs, our necks snapped, our jaws slack, looking for someone's face to attack.An afterword by Burgess expresses his regret at having written this novel, half grand Guignol, half post-modern experiment. I can't really say I regret reading it, but I think I can understand where the author is coming from. His experiment is not entirely successful, but it's interesting and unusual and (mostly) entertaining, and worth a look if you're in the mood for something a little different. I was, and had fun reading it, until the really pretty incomprehensible ending anyway.*I submit that "cannibal berserker" is a better term for what the characters -- and, vicariously, Burgess' readers -- become, anyway.

  • Christopher
    2019-06-10 22:31

    How much did I dislike this book? Let me count the ways … or not (is it worth it?). It's like an experimental "nouveau roman" of the French 1950s, only without the talent of those writers. Words and sentences fold back upon each other in fitful leaps and starts, without conclusions, and then The ending of that last sentence was a joke. That's how Tony Burgess' writing often feels. To be fair, he acknowledges some of this insufferable quality of the novel in his afterword (written after the movie version came out), where he talks about how he had just finished a graduate program in semiotics when he wrote it. This explains a lot. There's a large degree of undisguised pride in language that interferes with both plot development and meditative assimilation of whatever poetry Burgess is able to create.I wanted to read it because its movie adaptation was mentioned, favorably, in the last book I read, the graphic nonfiction novel "Filmish," by Edward Ross. From both Burgess' own description of the movie (in the afterword) and Ross' in "Filmish," it sounds as if the movie is (fortunately) quite different. In this case, vraiment vive la difference!Nominally about a zombification virus that sweeps through Ontario, turning humans into cannibals - a virus caused by aphasia, or the failure of language - "Pontypool Changes Everything" is really about addiction and its toll. Just writing that sentence makes me want to read the book, since it's a weird and potentially fascinating concept. Except that in Burgess' incapable hands (at least at that time), it isn't.

  • [Name Redacted]
    2019-06-01 19:32

    Urgh. Bleh. Yargh. A "1 star" book receiving an extra star for the quality of the underlying conceit, though the fact that that fascinating conceit takes a back seat to..incoherent drivel...almost knocks it back down to a single star.How the gripping and atmospheric film "Pontypool" spun out of this repetitive, bloated mess is beyond me. It reads like the sort of thing I had to sit through when I was a Freshman Creative Writing major -- turgid with tortured metaphors, needless run-on sentences, and thoroughly unlikable characters. I understand that likable characters, beautiful prose and an interesting plot are considered "passe" in the world of "artistic literature", but those sentiments always feel terribly adolescent to me. For instance, I've met literally MILLIONS of people over the course of my life, and as repulsive as I find the bulk of humanity, I can assure you that the individuals who make up that humanity are by-and-large pleasant and likable beings.In fact, the more I think about this book, the more certain I am that it deserves but a single star. I want the 9 hours back which it stole from my life.

  • Alexis Winning
    2019-06-13 01:16

    Poetic. Absurd. Surreal. Brilliant. These are the only words to describe Pontypool. I love the idea of semiotics. My background is more the idea of semiotics used in performance, but I understand the literary theory as well. The zombie plague in Pontypool is spread through language, or rather the deconstruction of it, which is brilliant because this nonsensical story is told through words, and often does not make sense-that's the point. It's definitely not a book for everyone. It's strange and nonlinear, which may frustrate some. Don't get me wrong, it's not a dense read by any means, you just have to get in the right mindset. Think zombie poetry on acid. This is not a book with a cathartic ending. In fact, there is no catharsis-you're there for the ride, and hopefully you "get it". This is a book about communication, interpretation, our inner world, and how that translates intrapersonally. This book comments on mental illness and how we construct and interpret our world, but it also suggests that we may not be too far off from the labels of mental illness once we understand that we may not be able to understand. Make sense? No? That's the point.

  • Kristel
    2019-06-03 02:37

    I'm not a particular fan of zombie movies/tv/media in any way, so perhaps it's not so surprising that I wasn't terribly fond of this. But it had an interesting idea - the zombie 'virus' being passed in words or speech or however you should describe it - so I went ahead with it anyway. It's a book that makes everything more difficult than it needs to be though, so I found it (surprisingly? for a book about zombies, I mean?) a bit of a slog to get through. I don't mind a book that doesn't connect the dots for me, but I'm not certain this book even had dots to connect. Reviewer Ben Paulson says this: If language creates the framework of conception, what is lost when our grasp of language disappears? Do the specificities of syntax really root us in reality? Is language what prevents us from a life of zombiehood? If we cannot understand each other, will it help to try to crawl into each other's mouths?Which makes me like the book more, if that's what Burgess was aiming at, but I wish that sort of idea had been a bit more on the surface of the novel.

  • Shelly
    2019-06-04 03:22

    I was amazed at the film, Pontypool. Such a small cast and tiny location work that packed an interesting punch without tons of gore. An old fashioned creepy movie. It was great and made me want to find the book so I could read it.Unfortunately, the book is completely different from the movie (and was done on purpose as the author explains in the afterward), but that doesn't mean that it sucks or anything. It is just a different view on the virus that turns people into zombies. A broader look at how it sweeps across the province and how it affects the lives of the people it touches.Now... Burgess is an aquired taste. His writing is full of images that don't necessarily make sense at the time you're reading them so can lead to confusion as to what is going on and, I'll admit, Pontypool is full of scenes like that, but each little story in the big story is actually kind of interesting to read.Overall I like the book. I doubt it will tickle the fancy of many people, but I liked it.

  • Corey
    2019-06-03 20:43

    The plot of PCE defies easy summation; like David Lynch's Mulholland Drive — and if there are any two artists whose combined talents would result in the freakiest , most disturbing story ever put to film, it's these two — PCE weaves through reality and fantasy without distinction between the two, physically pushing at the reader's concepts of linear narrative as dreamlike imagery takes hold. Make no mistake, reading Tony Burgess takes effort, an effort many people will be unwilling to take (wimps). Leave them to their safe little zones, their Bentley Littles and Robin Cooks; yeah, I'm not a fan. There is no safe ground in Burgessland. Everything shifts, and if you think you're safe and steady, the world is about to drop out from beneath you. His words are slivers beneath your fingertips, burrowing in and refusing to budge.Read the rest of the review here.

  • Gilliam
    2019-06-04 19:25

    While not nearly as impenetrable as Finnegans Wake (which Paul Mcfarland aptly makes comparison to in his earlier review here) Pontypool Changes Everything is steeped in the same fascination with language and storytelling and how the former shapes and informs the latter and, in the case of this book, how the latter shapes and informs the former, because the story of Pontypool Changes Everything, which recounts a zombie plague spread by human language, essentially transforms the book in your hands into a zombie itself. Now…the author himself has more or less distanced himself from the book—leaving it for dead—so the circumspect reader will probably follow his recommendation over mine but I really must applaud the stimulating imagery, the absurdist tone and the bounty of humor, morbid or otherwise, found within.

  • Katelynn
    2019-06-14 01:29

    how they made a (fantastic) movie out of this convoluted drivel i have no idea. it's like if someone eavesdropped on someone else rambling while on acid and then was like oh yeah i can totally make a coherent movie out of that. i just don't understand. it's a really unique and wonderful idea but the amount of effort and confusion it takes to slog through all the weird metaphors and abstract description is just not worth it. burgess was great at describing things and concepts but when it came to explaining action and plot, you had to basically use a magnifying glass to find it in hidden in all the purple prose and try-too-hard descriptions. this book is about zombies. the verbs shouldn't have been so hard to puzzle out.

  • Jason Coffman
    2019-06-09 21:30

    I'll be totally honest: I have no idea what the hell was going on for about half of this book. Actually, maybe more like a 60/40 split between "what the hell?" and understanding what was happening. Burgess writes in such a dense, oblique style that it's tough to figure out what's actually happening as part of the narrative and what's metaphor or tangential information (or entirely imaginary on the part of the characters). It's a neat trick to keep readers so completely off-balance and keep them reading-- it is interesting and compelling-- but a lot of the time I felt adrift in Burgess's baroque literary hijinks.

  • Greg
    2019-06-10 21:32

    Put this one in the self-indulgent look-how-clever-I-can-write category - post modern crap dressed up like a messy zombie novel. I like similes & metaphors as much as the next reader, but having them thrown at you machine gun style - sometimes all in one sentence - is not experimental or enjoyable. It's bad writing, folks. The emperor isn't wearing any clothes. There. I said it. Don't waste your time.

  • Philip
    2019-05-20 20:21

    With Pontypool Changes Everything Tony Burgess has proven himself to be the unchallenged master of literary zombie mayhem. The book is a mind blowling experience akin to tripping on acid while both H.P. Lovecraft and William S. Burroughs transmit dark thoughts directly into your brain. Reading the book is a life alterning experience that leaves other horror novels drowning in its wake. More than highly recommended, this book IS required reading for both fans and authors of the horror genre.

  • Nadia
    2019-06-04 20:37

    I really love where he went with the untrustworthy narrator theme. I hadn't thought about it until reading this book; we always assume that what we are told and experience as readers is supposed to be the truth in the fictional universe of the book. What happens when it's not? What happens when the main character is coming from a perspective where he's not sure what's real? What if the poison of the world has infected the narrator as well? This book goes there.