Corporate America meets the undead in Dave Flomberg's Management for Zombies
Zombie lit has exploded in the past decade, with the undead menace making its way into everything from award-winning graphic novels (The Walking Dead) to mash-ups with the classics (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). It's only natural, then, that the zombie is making its way into the corporate world through local author Dave Flomberg's Management for Zombies. Described in press materials as "Who Moved My Cheese if it was written by George Romero and Bill Simmons," the book is a humorous skewering of the corporate world, set in a post-apocalyptic world where the workforce has graduated from metaphorical zombies to the literal kind. Before the book officially releases at a free launch party -- 7 p.m. Thursday, November 29, at the Thin Man/St. Mark's Coffeehouse -- we talked to Flomberg about his zombie influences, his background and what experiences drove him to cast corporate leadership as masters of the undead.
Westword: Do you want to start by telling us what the book's about?
Dave Flomberg: The book's first and foremost about my problems with corporate America and the way the C-class suite looks at its workforce as little more than a means to an end. I've been in the workforce more than twenty years now and I've seen a lot of the same kind of thing at different companies. The way that this thing started to come together was me seeing a lot of managers who kind of used the "it's just business" mantra rationalizing away how they treat people. That started me down the path of thinking about how I could get out my frustrations with that world in a way that might be fun and funny.
Zombies kind of jumped out at me a while back. The book's been simmering for a couple of years, which is sad because it's only about a hundred pages. It's been building over time as I was watching a lot of the same things occur, regardless of the company or the product. The C-suite kind of looking at its employees as just fleshbags. That's not universal and there's a lot of great managers out there; I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of great managers. But I realized that for me to tell that story, it had to be funny. It was therapeutic for me to be funny throughout and do it in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
But ultimately, at the bottom, underneath all of it is a reminder that we're humans first and what we do for a living is what we do so we can live. I think that the people in the corner offices forget that the higher they go. That started it and zombies were a perfect vehicle: That's what we are. When you look at your human workforce and you don't see humanity anymore, what you're left with is a zombie.
That's kind of the same territory that Shaun of the Dead dealt with -- people stumbling through life glassy-eyed and essentially undead, to the point they barely even notice when the actual zombie apocalypse happens.
Yeah, it's not a new concept. The twist here is I don't think anyone's ever applied it to corporate America before -- at least, I haven't seen it done. George Romero did it with consumerism, and his take on malls and the way we all go about it. For me, the twist was, we're forced into that box, as opposed to Shaun of the Dead or George Romero's takes, where we choose to be there. For me it was the other side -- we're kind of stuffed into that box, of being glassy-eyed, stumbling, shuffling around our lives because the people who control the flow of information and the money, they won't let us do anything else.
Is this your first ... novel? I guess it's a novel, even if it's not written in a typical novel form. Parodic non-nonfiction? What would you call it?
[Laughs] Yeah, it's kind of hard to classify. Ultimately it's fiction, fiction that's a kind of humor, kind of satiric humor essays, a compilation of thoughts I've had over the years, collecting in one place. Is it a novel? I don't know. That's probably far more gracious than it really is. [But] yeah, it's my first published book.