Wednesday, December 5, 2012

There's a Right way, and a Wong way...

Bloggery time again. I need to look back and see where I got up to with my nostalgic retrospective of my gaming history, but in the meantime I've been catching up on reading. Something that I haven't really been doing recently due to NaNoWriMo.

Not that I've been reading much recently anyway. I'd been rereading House of Leaves, mostly because it is both incredibly spooky, and it's got some seriously cool typography and design. That was until I picked up David Wong's sequel to one of my favourite books.

John Dies at the End -
David Wong
(Titan Books)
I've already sung the praises of Wong's "John Dies at the End", and I finally managed to convince my wife to read it. JDATE is an odd one - it started as a blog, David Wong writing it for the internet, and then managed to get such a following for the strange occult adventures of David Wong and his slacker friend John, that it eventually became a small press book. When the legendary director of Phantasm (which I love!) Don Coscarelli showed interest and the book became a movie (going to be released in very soon VoD and limited theatrical run), the bigger book publishers took note and "John Dies at the End" hit the mainstream shelves.

The book itself is bonkers. It really does seem like Wong made the whole thing up as he went along, compiling three distinct stories into one crazy, meandering stream of consciousness that is incredibly addictive and I loved every moment of it.

The problem I had was that it felt like something I would have written. The tone, the bizarre nature of it all, it just felt like Wong had managed to plug into my brain and syphon my own strange ramblings and channel them into his book.

John Dies at the End
Film Poster edition
I read JDATE in about a week, and was left wondering what to read next. I ended up starting to read it again straight away, which is pretty odd. I never really re-read books. I've only really re-read a handful of books - "Falling Out of Cars" by Jeff Noon (my go-to read whenever I need inspiration, it's like my comfort blanket. I know, an odd choice), "Dune" by Frank Herbert (just because it's ace), "The Gunslinger" by Stephen King (mostly because I kept rereading the early ones every time a new Dark Tower book came out), and recently "House of Leaves" by Mark Danielewski.

It wasn't long after the trailer for the movie hit the internet that a sequel to the book was officially announced. It came out just before NaNoWriMo, and I launched myself into David and John's world again. I didn't do as the usual reviewers, I took my time, and enjoyed it. When NaNo started in November, I calmed down the reading because I was worried that my writing style would become... I don't know... more... "Wong" than my own style. Thankfully, NaNo has finished and I was able to finish the book this morning.

The sequel, "This book is full of spiders (seriously dude, don't touch it!)" really does what it says on the tin. It is full of spiders. Evil, parasitic, alien spiders that bore into your head, take over your brain, and turn you into a violent zombie (for want of a better word). Unlike JDATE, "Spiders" is really just one big story, as John, David and Amy find themselves at the core of the "outbreak" and the imminent destruction of their hometown of "Undisclosed". The same strange plot elements (especially the opening sequence with the strange military box and the last minute reveal of its contents) are there, but this is a more structured and coherent story.

The use of the bizarre alien drug "Soy Sauce", introduced in JDATE, is really cool, though the nature of the story having to rely on 2nd hand accounts when you're not following Wong does make it a little odd in places - but when you get to the end and read how the book was supposedly put together it makes sense.

I picked up the book on the day of release, and the first printing had a lot of typos, and three of the pages were in the wrong order, so hopefully that'll be rectified by the time you purchase it. And you should. It's still awesome, and together with John Dies at the End, they easily make my fave reads of the year!

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