Guys, I’m so glad this book is almost over, because I’m close to giving up.
Honestly, I’m worn out. I don’t know how many different ways there are to say that Hazel is a hateful brat, that I still don’t care Gus is dead, that apparently people with cancer have a monopoly on feelings about death, that John Green is either a narcissistic douchebag desperately trying to prove his relevance to the literary canon or a narcissistic douchebag desperately trying to prove his relevance to tweenage girls via so much pandering.
You’re tired of hearing it, I’m tired of saying it; Lord knows we’re all tired of reading it.
I mean, this chapter is almost exactly the same as the last one, just . . . longer. And less plausible.
Oh well, let’s just pick ourselves up by our hideous bowties and stagger through the third-to-last chapter of this endless novel. It’s what Mr. Psycho would’ve wanted.
This week, we’re going to spend the rest of forever at a funeral. So think of Sunshine’s delightful behavior on Gus’ Facebook wall, then imagine her doing that until the sun burns out and the earth turns to dust.
There were maybe eighty chairs set up in the room, and it was two-thirds full but felt one-third empty.
I’m sorry, but my brain short-circuited trying to make that less stupid. Instead of dignifying that tepid bit of “cleverness” with a response, I’d like to cordially invite you to blow me.
For a while, I just watched people walk up to the coffin, which was on some kind of cart covered in a purple tablecloth.
For my own amusement — and since describing a setting in more than half a sentence would force Green into a seizure, I imagine — I’m going to assume his body was sitting on top of a Mario Kart.
All these people I’d never seen before would kneel down next to him or stand over him
And if Hazel Grace doesn’t know them, clearly they never really cared about Gus and are just there because . . . they enjoy spending their free time crying in a church? It’s difficult to mistrust their motives when the only alternative sounds like the behavior of a serial killer.
all of them would touch the coffin instead of touching him, because no one wants to touch the dead.
Are you . . . judging them for not wanting to fondle a corpse? It’s generally frowned upon to paw at dead bodies, Sunshine.
Gus’s mom and dad were standing next to the coffin, hugging everybody as they passed by, but when they noticed me, they smiled and shuffled over.
Because they love her the best, you see; she’s the only one who deserves movement, because she’s more special. Please tell me you’ve noticed how special she is, because Green’s only going to point it out approximately 27,000 more times.
“He loved you so much,” Gus’s mom said. “He really did. It wasn’t—it wasn’t puppy love or anything,” she added, as if I didn’t know that.
Only 26,999 more mentions of how amazing Hazel is, guys! We’re in the home stretch!
Also, could you please be less of a twat to the people who lost their son? “As if I didn’t know that” . . . I just . . . like . . .
See, I’ve run out of ways to say this sucks! The English language is a marvelous thing, but there are only so many words, and I think I’ve used just about all of them over this almost-year-long exorcism of vitriol.
“He loved you so much, too,” I said quietly.
Yeah, I think his parents were kinda aware of that. What, it’s obvious that he worshipped you, but his love for the people who raised him and knew him best needs to be clarified?
It’d be one thing if she seemed at all self-aware — a simple “We knew we were stating the obvious, but in the face of such a huge vacuum there was nothing else to say” would’ve sufficed (okay, that sucked a little bit, but the measuring stick is John Green, so cut me a little slack) — but there’s no indication that she sees any hypocrisy here.
But thank God, she’s going to the casket to show these pathetic plebs how it’s done:
I pulled the oxygen tube from my nostrils and raised the tube up over my head, handing it to Dad. I wanted it to be just me and just him.
Sure, because there’s nothing more romantic than staring at the face of your beloved and being distracted by how in pain you are.
But I forgot: their love is so tragic that it can only be expressed in the bittersweet language of pain.
His hair was parted neatly on the left side in a way that he would have found absolutely horrifying, and his face was plasticized. But he was still Gus. My lanky, beautiful Gus.
Aaaaand now we’re two shirtless Native Americans away from becoming Twilight. I don’t want to belittle their love or anything, but . . . are dead people really all that beautiful? Is that why she’s so weirdly offended that people aren’t touching him?
As I knelt, I realized they’d closed his eyes—of course they had—and that I would never again see his blue eyes.
Say “eyes” a few more times, Hazel. That’ll make you feel better.
“I love you present tense,” I whispered, and then put my hand on the middle of his chest and said, “It’s okay, Gus. It’s okay. It is. It’s okay, you hear me?” I had —and have—absolutely no confidence that he could hear me. I leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Okay,” I said. “Okay.”
Am I going to hell? Because I burst out laughing trying to picture her babbling hipster nonsense to herself while looking like she’s giving CPR to his corpse. Sometimes things should be said on the inside, sweetie.
I suddenly felt conscious that there were all these people watching us, that the last time so many people saw us kiss we were in the Anne Frank House. But there was, properly speaking, no us left to watch. Only a me.
Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll try to dignify that with a comment.
Thank you for reminding us about how you made the imprisonment and death of a little girl an excuse for you two to pork and complain about yourselves. If I had any ability to empathize with your situation, that killed it as dead as that body you’re groping.
She slips a pack of cigarettes into his coffin, because Green doesn’t know how to let a metaphor die. (Seriously, though, packs are like $6-8 bucks. I’m not saying he isn’t worth it, but you could buy a lot of candy with that and not support a horrible industry.)
But no more of that “heartwarming” drama, because we have a lot more disdain for other people to get through!
A minister walked up and stood behind the coffin, almost like the coffin was a pulpit or something, and talked a little bit about how Augustus had a courageous battle and how his heroism in the face of illness was an inspiration to us all, and I was already starting to get pissed off at the minister when he said, “In heaven, Augustus will finally be healed and whole,” implying that he had been less whole than other people due to his leglessness, and I kind of could not repress my sigh of disgust.
How dare that minister try to do his job and provide comfort to those who have had to say goodbye to a loved one? Obviously we should take everything he says and hold it up against our own personal beliefs for maximum judgement, and refuse to cut him any slack because . . . what, in heaven Gus would still be crippled, because he likes it better that way?
A kinder soul would assume that the minister means that Gus’ soul will have finally triumphed over his body — a soul that could not be damped down by his earthly struggles in life or in death. Even if you don’t believe it, you’d have to be a pretty hateful bitch to read into those sentiments any sort of insulting . . .
Wait, I forgot who we were talking about. Never mind.
from the row behind me, someone muttered almost inaudibly near my ear, “What a load of horse crap, eh, kid?”
I spun around.
Peter Van Houten wore a white linen suit, tailored to account for his rotundity, a powder-blue dress shirt, and a green tie.
There’s some more stuff from the service, Isaac and Sunshine give new eulogies that are boring and stupid. Though there is one thing I’d like to point out before we move onto Green’s bastardization of the only good character in this novel:
Then I began reading from the eulogy I’d written.
“There’s a great quote in Gus’s house, one that both he and I found very comforting: Without pain, we couldn’t know joy.”
I went on spouting bullshit Encouragements as Gus’s parents, arm in arm, hugged each other and nodded at every word. Funerals, I had decided, are for the living.
Really? You know, I could get behind that, seeing as I said — well, shrieked — it more than once the last chapter.
Of course, it’d ring a lot less hollow if everything she said and did contradicted this one tiny, pathetic shred of human feeling stuffed into the page like Green suddenly realized that he’d written an utterly loathsome character, but instead of course-correcting he just threw in lukewarm statements meant to cover her ass, deciding that telling us she’s a good person is just as good as actually showing it.
She gets all emo about Gus being dead, I don’t care, blah blah blah, there’s another goddamn Hectic Glow song because he literally never listened to anything else, this . . . weirdness happens:
I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to see them lower him into the ground in the spot he’d picked out with his dad, and I didn’t want to see his parents sink to their knees in the dew-wet grass and moan in pain, and I didn’t want to see Peter Van Houten’s alcoholic belly stretched against his linen jacket, and I didn’t want to cry in front of a bunch of people, and I didn’t want to toss a handful of dirt onto his grave, and I didn’t want my parents to have to stand there beneath the clear blue sky with its certain slant of afternoon light, thinking about their day and their kid and my plot and my casket and my dirt.
But I did these things. I did all of them and worse, because Mom and Dad felt we should.
What does that mean? “And worse”? Like . . . did you crucify a hooker on his grave? Did you shriek obscenities at the other mourners? Did you finally give in to all that revolting sexual tension and go to town on Gus’ corpse?
Well, I don’t care, because we have Van Houten!
Van Houten walked up to me and put a fat hand on my shoulder and said, “Could I hitch a ride? Left my rental at the bottom of the hill.”
Also, can we point out how weirdly obsessed with Van Houten’s fat Hazel is? It’s . . . icky.
I was pretty surprised that Peter Van Houten had flown halfway across the world to attend a funeral.
Yep, and that’s why I have a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“How did you even—” I started, but he cut me off.
“I used the infernal Internet of yours to follow the Indianapolis obituary notices.” He reached into his linen suit and produced a fifth of whiskey.
“And you just like bought a ticket and—”
He interrupted again while unscrewing the cap. “It was fifteen thousand for a first-class ticket, but I’m sufficiently capitalized to indulge such whims. And the drinks are free on the flight. If you’re ambitious, you can almost break even.”
Van Houten took a swig of the whiskey and then leaned forward to offer it to my dad, who said, “Um, no thanks.” Then Van Houten nodded the bottle toward me. I grabbed it.
“Hazel,” my mom said, but I unscrewed the cap and sipped. It made my stomach feel like my lungs.
Wow, if only one of those people was an authority figure who wasn’t driving and could take control of the situation. Maybe call the cops on the old man giving alcohol to a minor, or practice some sort of discipline like . . . you know, parents.
(Also, “it burned.” Stop trying to be cute, Green.)
But wait, it gets much worse:
“Your boy Waters and I corresponded a bit, and in his last—”
“Wait, you read your fan mail now?”
“No, he sent it to my house, not through my publisher. And I’d hardly call him a fan. He despised me. But at any rate he was quite insistent that I’d be absolved for my misbehavior if I attended his funeral and told you what became of Anna’s mother. So here I am, and there’s your answer: Omnis cellula e cellula.”
So, in case you missed that: our favorite lovable curmudgeon, a douchebag who — rightfully — objects to teenagers invading his home without warning and demanding answers that he purposely didn’t write down, has willingly, for the sake of these teenagers . . .
- Used the internet, which apparently he hates
- Sent long, presumably boring emails to Gus, likely receiving verbal abuse from the latter
- Trolled obituaries for who knows how many days, waiting for Gus to kick it
- Bought a plane ticket to a country he swore never to return to
- Attended a social function, which he seemed allergic to (I mean, it’s not a party or anything, but still)
- All in order to answer a question that he is intellectually and morally opposed to ever answering, for someone who assaulted and screamed at him.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
But Sunshine has no interest in his shenanigans:
“I think you’re a pathetic alcoholic who says fancy things to get attention like a really precocious eleven-year-old and I feel super bad for you.”
“But yeah, no, you’re not the guy who wrote An Imperial Affliction anymore, so you couldn’t sequel it even if you wanted to. Thanks, though. Have an excellent life.”
“Thanks for the booze,” I said. “Now get out of the car.”
He looked scolded. Dad had stopped the car and we just idled there below Gus’s grave for a minute until Van Houten opened the door and, finally silent, left.
As we drove away, I watched through the back window as he took a drink and raised the bottle in my direction, as if toasting me. His eyes looked so sad. I felt kinda bad for him, to be honest.
Doesn’t that half-assed not-apology make it all better? Obviously we’re setting him up for some sort of sob story as a pseudo-redemption, but he’s already dead to me. Goodbye, guy we almost sort of liked.
And what the hell are the parents doing? Why did no one tell her it’s pretty dickish to insult strangers, even if they are tragic shadows of their former, hilarious selves?
Ugh, let’s just end this (how often have I said that over the course of this series?):
I kept thinking there were two kinds of adults: There were Peter Van Houtens— miserable creatures who scoured the earth in search of something to hurt. And then there were people like my parents, who walked around zombically, doing whatever they had to do to keep walking around.
Neither of these futures struck me as particularly desirable. It seemed to me that I had already seen everything pure and good in the world, and I was beginning to suspect that even if death didn’t get in the way, the kind of love that Augustus and I share could never last.
So dawn goes down to day, the poet wrote. Nothing gold can stay.
Yep, no one has loved as intensely as you and your stalker. You lived an eternity in, like, 6 weeks. Your parents only spent years together in presumably boning-filled love, then held each other up while taking care of a daughter who couldn’t have been less what they’d expected. But their relationship is filled with boring things like constancy and support. They didn’t even make out in a single Holocaust memorial! How can we assume that’s love?
Jesus, this was insufferable. But it’s . . . the same kind of insufferable the rest of the book has been, which means I . . . need a nap.