Writing Is More Than Letters On A Page

I’m reading Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, and I love it.
I love Marion’s style; his characters and plot; his sense of humor; his musings on life, death, and rebirth; and the fact that Marion follows William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet so closely without losing sight of his own story that it’s almost like a game finding all of the allusions and paraphrases.
(In case you get stuck, there’s a balcony scene, complete with R eavesdropping as Julie wonders aloud if it’s right to call him a “zombie” because, after all, what’s in a name? And I’m convinced that I just found Marion’s personal take on Sonnet 130.)
I’ll probably write something about it here on this blog later. But I’m sharing tonight because tonight I read something that stuck out to me and I thought that those of you who are like me and love the power of a story and writing would appreciate it.
It’s cliché to be a writer who writes a story in which a character wishes to be a writer and thus discusses writing and story within the story. It’s cliché, and yet every time such moments resonate with me, a writer motivated to communicate. So when I read this tonight, there was a part of me that rolled my eyes and wished Marion hadn’t included this,
and then there was a part of me that adored it.


In this scene, Julie’s boyfriend Perry (any guesses who his Shakespearean counterpart is?) has just lost his father and is speaking to a Colonel Rosso about his adjustment into the Living settlement’s orphanage.

Perry, Warm Bodies



“I want to join security,” I announce. My voice is solid now. My face is hard.

Rosso lets out a slow breath and sets his book down. “Why, Perry?”

“Because it’s the only thing left worth doing.”

“I thought you wanted to write.”

“That’s pointless.”


“We have bigger concerns now. General Grigio says these are the last days. I don’t want to waste my last days scratching letters on paper.”

“Writing isn’t letters on paper. It’s communication. It’s memory.”

“None of that matters anymore. It’s too late.”

He studies me. He picks up the book again and holds the cover out. “Do you know this story?”

“It’s Gilgamesh.”

“Yes. The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest known works of literature. Humanity’s debut novel, you could say.” Rosso flips through the brittle yellow pages. “Love, sex, blood, and tears. A journey to eternal life. To escape death.” He reaches across the table and hands the book to me. “It was written over four thousand years ago on clay tablets by people who tilled the mud and rarely lived past forty. It’s survived countless wars, disasters, and plagues, and continues to fascinate to this day, because here I am, in the midst of modern ruin, reading it.”

I look at Rosso. I don’t look at the book. My fingers dig into the leather cover.

The world that birthed that story is long gone, all it’s people are dead, but it continues to touch the present and future because someone cared enough about that world to keep it. To put it in words. To remember it.”


Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion, 139-140


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