In the fifth chapter of John Dies at the End, David tries to head to Vegas to save the world and then doesn’t and then does and then WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ENDING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read John Dies at the End.
Chapter Five: Riding with Shitload
Oh gosh, let’s talk about some things.
This Novel’s Style
It’s been difficult for me to figure out a way to bring this up coherently, but John Dies at the End is written in a more modern, conversational style, not in the same way Newsflesh or any other book I’ve read for Mark Reads. I think part of that is the nature of the narrative. This is all framed as an interview that David is giving to Arnie, so it works really well in that sense. It feels like some guy is sitting down and telling me this story, live. It explains a lot of the side comments and tangents that David goes on, too! Sometimes, David can be grating, like when he’s using that one ableist slur that I thought we all stopped using in fifth grade? Or when he’s objectifying Jennifer. They’re jarring little snippets in the story because I don’t know why they’re there. They don’t tell us anything about David or what’s going on.
Still, it’s kind of fun to read this book in a way that’s surprising to me. I mean, spend like five minutes on this site, and you might understand why a curse-laden, hyperbolic narrative style might appeal to me. Hello, it’s exactly how I talk and write. There’s always going to be a part of me that giggles at Shitload!
I grew up with a foul-mouthed mother who tried her hardest to impart the need for her children not to have potty mouths. That didn’t work. Obviously, the blatant contradiction wasn’t working for me. Growing up in a world that expects me to appeal to other by not acting like my fellow people of color, it’s a conscious rejection of respectability politics on my part when I swear. I do it on purpose. I am so bored with the idea that we must “rise above” certain aspects of language. And not to get too serious here, but a lot of the criticism of that nonsense comes from very racist and classist places! So fuck that, I love swearing, and it’s always going to be a part of my vocabulary. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the value and need to self-censor in certain contexts. I’ve done lectures or live readings in places where I was asked not to swear, and I have no problem being respectful of that sort of thing! I just mean on a personal basis, I am going to refer to things as a “shitload” or call my friends “fuckers” and “shit heads” because this is who I am.
This Is Really Violent
Perhaps the most explicitly violent book I’ve ever read for Mark Reads? Yeah, probably. So I am totally okay if any of y’all bail at this point and don’t want to make yourselves uncomfortable. Part of what I want to foster here is the idea that at any point, we can be comfortable expressing our discomfort, you know? So no shaming people who say this is not their thing and whatnot.
Anyway, I like David Cronenberg! He’s got some truly weird shit in his repertoire, and I don’t worship him or anything. But that dude made some fucked-up movies. He also made The Fly, which is cinematic perfection. And you’ll notice I make reference to John Carpenter’s The Thing a lot over on Mark Watches because it is one of my very favorite movies in the world. So the body horror here doesn’t upset me. It’s something I got into as a young teenager. That doesn’t mean it’s not shocking. David shooting Justin was unexpected. The end sequence with Morgan’s death is just… holy shit, it was so sudden. That was almost more upsetting than the way they found out he had those insects in him. Which… no. Oh my god.
This sort of focus on violent body transformation is a way to highlight the threat these characters face. Whatever these creatures are that are using the soy sauce to enter our world, they pose a credible threat to the very fabric of our world. Even worse, there doesn’t seem to be a weakness, or at least not one that I understand. Unless it’s that Whitesnake song? It could be. I don’t know yet.
A whole lot more, actually! Fred Chu, Big Jim, and Jennifer all make their appearance here, though it’s unexplained why Justin Shitload chose these people (and John and David) to come with him to Las Vegas. Even stranger, Shitload says they all have the same goal. Um… I don’t think that’s the case??? You must be mistaken, sir.
Can I also make a prediction here? I don’t expect anyone aside from David to survive. Obviously, John dies at the end, but these other three characters haven’t taken soy sauce, have no idea what’s going on, and haven’t proven to be necessary to the narrative yet. And even someone like Morgan Freeman, who was on a mission to end this thing inside Justin, didn’t survive the story. So if he’s expendable, I kind of believe everyone is.
More Soy Sauce!
I wouldn’t say I know a whole lot more about the drug yet, but I really enjoyed the chance to see it working. As I said in the opening of this, the succinct conversational tone works well for the story, but it also makes all the passages where David access his “powers” that soy sauce grants him stand out more than usual. I brought that up when I spoke about the scene where Morgan shoots David, and David then instantly goes back to discover the source of the faulty bullet. That’s what it feels like here, though these scenes are much briefer. It does seem like soy sauce allows people to slip through time with just a thought, though I don’t think that is the easiest way to describe what’s going on. Did anyone else get a Felix Felicis vibe from this? Because that’s totally what it was like when I read it.
I forgot he existed. Thanks, book, for reminding me that he was real. Ugh, what an irritating human being.
So, we get a few hints that Big Jim might not be who we thought he was, but I’m not so sure this is accurate. Couldn’t David just see if that was the case? I don’t know! I’m just asking! Given that they crash at the end of the chapter, they’re definitely not making it to Vegas any time soon. Unless the soy sauce in David or John’s system helps them find a car. That’s a possibility! But even then, what the hell do they do next? Seek out Marconi and then… what? I DON’T KNOW. I KNOW NOTHING. Lord, I am so unprepared.
Mark Links Stuff
– I have redesigned MarkDoesStuff.com! Check out this post explaining the new changes, which includes the start of a permanent archive of all Mark Watches videos!
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