Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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The Funny Bones of You

John Dies at the End, by David Wong (pseudonym of Jason Pargin, editor of Cracked.com), begins with the following line: "Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt." The riddle involves decapitation, a foot-long slug with a bulging egg sac on its tail, and a darkly comic sense of humor. Are you still with me? Let's continue.

People describe John Dies at the End as "a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King" or "Stephen King meets Harold and Kumar," which are fairly accurate. I think it's like the Johnny Truant sections of House of Leaves as directed by Sam Raimi. It's gonzo horror. Still with me? Let's continue.

David Wong (not his real name) and the titular John (also not his real name) are two dudes who come across a strange drug dubbed "soy sauce" that has some very...interesting effects. But the soy sauce is just the beginning. There is bloodshed, intrigue, otherworldly creatures, hot chicks, bratwurst, meat monsters, video games, and a bit with a dog. It's almost better if I don't tell you anything about this book because it is just so goddamn insane. seanan_mcguire, who lent it to me, describes it as one long acid trip. A fucking hilarious acid trip that's also creepy and scary. It's often profane and puerile and clearly written by a dude (only one female character has real development), but it's like pure imagination let loose on the page. What is the craziest shit that can happen next? It'll happen. Don't expect it all to be wrapped up in a little bow at the end, but the ride is worth it. You should know by now if it's your kind of thing, and if you think it is at all, pick it up.

John Dies at the End is like nothing I've ever read. There's going to be a movie out next year, and the sequel has been sent to the publishers: This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It.

For years, I thought Christopher Moore was a hack writer with terrible books because he was so popular (and because he was always shelved next to Lorrie Moore, so I was like GET AWAY), but then I discovered I was wrong and I should actually check him out. So I finally picked up A Dirty Job, read by Oscar-winner Fisher Stevens, and, oh man, I clearly need to read more by this guy, because he writes like I talk. I didn't know you were fucking allowed to say fuck every third word and be published and be successful and shit.

In A Dirty Job, Charlie Asher becomes a father. At the expense of his wife. Amusingly enough, the one-sentence blurb for this book in the library catalogue simply describes it as the story of a man who must cope with his wife's death and be a single father. That's all it says. And the great thing about this book is that it's true! Of course, it would also be nice to mention that Charlie becomes Death and stuff. That's kind of important to the story.

Charlie is a beta-male. You will never forget this because Moore mentions it three thousand times. It is one of the central ideas of his book, strangely, and he gets a surprising amount of mileage from the idea of the "beta-male." And, well, since I am a beta-male, I found his observations about our behavior astute.

Charlie the beta-male must juggle his new daughter, his secondhand store, and his new calling: collecting souls! Moore develops a neat little mechanism for soul collecting and the role of Death, and he borrows from Celtic mythology to give Charlie some formidable—but funny—foes. Dark powers are rising!

A Dirty Job is full of quirky characters (and, unfortunately, ethnic stereotypes), and it has a delightfully absurd sense of humor, down to the chapter titles. I loved that it was set in San Francisco, and I recognized the locations and inspirations (there are creatures clearly inspired by some of my favorite things in Paxton Gate). And apparently, nearly all of Moore's books take place in the same universe, and characters from one book pop up in others and shit, which I love. So I will definitely be checking out more Moore.

These reviews are terrible. I'm sorry. I will blame it on the fact that I am apparently a playwright now and I have to save my creativity for writing plays or whatever.
Tags: books, real life friends
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