“Coming-of-age” is generally perceived as taking place over the period when an adolescent makes the mental and emotional leap to adulthood. But very often that is not the case, especially in certain genres, such as horror, when the emotionally stunted individual can just as easily be an adult. In literature, like a summer’s end, youth is over after one great adventure that comes too quickly, and the adults that emerge from that traumatic season are many times filled with their own emotional trauma that will never go away. That’s good for the reader but bad for the character. If handled incorrectly Coming-of-Age can be soapy and boring. But in the hands of a skilled ink slinger, it is an exciting and breathtaking journey filled with emotional intensity. Even a misspent youth has a learning curve, and these stories take you through it. I’m going to mention a few of my favorites that I hope you will read if you haven’t already.
The limited edition hardcover treatment for a short story might seem like overkill, but some pieces deserve to be highlighted on their own. Such is the case with This Year’s Class Picture, a classic zombie tale by Dan Simmons that first appeared nearly 25 years ago in John Skipp and Craig Spector’s stellar anthology Still Dead: Book of the Dead 2.
Ms. Geiss is dealing with the aftermath of the zombie uprising as best she can – staying vigilant, fortifying her sanctuary, keeping a watchful eye out at all times. She’s also trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, albeit through some rather extreme measures. Ms. Geiss was a fourth grade teacher in another life and another world; a dedicated educator who chose the school she taught in for years as her safe place during the end of the world; a woman who now maintains and attempts to teach a small class of undead children in her former classroom.