What I Learned Today #4: Max Brooks

TIL: Driving to work this morning, I caught a repeat of “Fresh Air” on my local NPR station. It happened to be a repeat from 2017, so they could cut into the time for the “Summer Fund Drive.” But the guest happened to be Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.

Son of Mrs. Robinson

Here’s the nice story of growing up with dedicated parents: his mother shelved her acting career to advocated for him in school due no one knowing what his dyslexia was at the time, and his being approached by “creepy Baby Boomers” doing the “Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink!” about his mom’s character in “The Graduate,” which scared him from seeing the movie until he was 22, then realizing all the scandalous stuff was mostly described in dialog rather than shown.

So, they only briefly touched on the fact that he was a writer for “Saturday Night Live” in 2001-2003. Let’s just consider: he worked on a 90-minute variety show that went out live on Saturday nights. Just like his dad did 50 years before on “Your Show of Shows.” The one with Sid Caesar. That’s pretty impressive in itself.

Zombie Jamboree

But what I also didn’t know was that Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks was the author of The Zombie Survival Guide.

And World War Z.

Which was, of course, turned into a movie. So he’s also a premier writer in the Zombie Apocalypse field.

But he was on the show to promote what was then his latest novel based on a video game, yet: Minecraft: The Island.

And he also wrote the graphic novel Harlem Hellfighters.

This is a slightly fictionalized history of the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African-American unit that was set up to fail by the US Army; yet they served with honor in France. They were on the front lines longer than any other American unit, and were the first AEF unit to cross the Rhine. The “fictionalizing” comes on mainly through the use of composite characters.

I can only say: I’m impressed. Though some of his talk on “Fresh Air”  covered the need to prepare yourself, or your children, for whatever lies ahead. I guess thinking about, and writing about, the Zombie Apocalypse, or being left on your own in the Minecraft world, can arise from considering how to make it by yourself under unusual situations.

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