Wednesday, April 16, 2014
David Wong wins at titles
John Dies at the End is the newest entry on my top-ten-all-time-favorite-books list (a constantly rotating and changing pool that is probably closer to twenty titles). When I finished reading it I wanted to run out and read the follow-up, This Book is full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, don't touch it, immediately but I held off because if I always got all of the books that I want to read my house would be made out of books and I would never sleep again.
So finally, months after my first reading of JDatE, I had myself a psychotic little weekend in which I re-read the book, watched the bitchin' Don Coscarelli film, and finished up by reading This Book is full of Spiders. In short: I had an awesome weekend, thanks, how was yours?
John Dies at the End is just such a great book. It's so happy to be what it is, and it does its job so perfectly. It's creepy and way more funny than almost anything I've ever read and it makes want to have adventures (perhaps somewhat less ball-punchingly crazy adventures than John and Dave have). There is no way that this book could be improved, it's exactly what it needs to be, and what it needs to be is the story of two losers saving the universe from battle arachnids and inter-dimensional aliens.
The best part of it is probably the characters - these aren't John McClain style gritty, handsome everymen; they're charming dipshits who you could easily meet walking down the street. It's great to read a book about saving the world and have flawed, frightened characters who are aware of their own limitations telling you the story.
Maybe the best part is the minutia - with David Wong narrating you're thinking about the visual presentation of dog treats and the geographical distribution of McDonald's menu items as well as terrible slug-monsters and ghost doors.
Maybe all of the parts are the best parts and that's why I like the book so much and can't think of any flaws in it. Some people might think that it's a little long but I'm happy with the length because that's how many words the book needed to tell the story - cutting corners to save pages would cut out cool stuff with Fred Durst and meat demons and chair-based puns.
It's got to be terrifying to follow up a book like JDatE; there's so much going on and it's so clearly what it wants to be. But there was more going on in the universe so we got another story.
This Book is full of Spiders isn't quite as pants-shittingly rad as JDatE but that's because it's a totally different animal (one that I also happened to like quite a bit).
The narration is less focused and is given more voices than in the first book and is much more serious; sure you still get a lot of dick jokes but you don't see as many references to hair bands. This Book is full of Spiders covers a more serious topic than dipshits saving the world; it's a comedy horror novel with alien spiders that's really about man's inhumanity to man and that is fucking rad.
There are a lot of people out there who have trouble wading through Camus or Kundera or Achebe or any of those great 20th century names who understood that after the bomb dropped the human species basically called it a free-for-all. This Book is full of Spiders is Things Fall Apart for a generation of hipsters and gamers.
Do you have any idea how cool that is? There are thousands of books that are in the BS "literary canon" that are going to go unread by billions of people because they're dense and unrelatable (the books, not the people). This Book is full of Spiders examines a lot of the ideas explored in that unreadable (or at least difficult-to-enjoy) canon and presents them so that people raised on pop culture rather than Ovid (y'know, like pretty much every generation since the 1700s) can swallow it and it rules.
Wong, David. John Dies at the End. St. Martin's Griffin. 2012. (2007)
Wong, David. This Book is full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, don't touch it. Thomas Dunne Books. 2012.