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Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America Hardcover – June 3, 2014


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Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America + Crackpot: The Obsessions of + Role Models
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374298637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374298630
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* There’s nothing cheap—er, ungenerous—about Waters, the Pope of Trash (or Filth, or both). His new book is actually three (clap!), three (clap!), three books in one! All are based on the pitch he sold his publisher about hitchhiking from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco. Oh, he knew it was insane—“I’m sixty-six years old, for chrissake”—and so wrote it up in advance, just in case, once imagining “The Best That Could Happen,” then again envisioning “The Worst That Could Happen.” Because he is, after all, John “Pink Flamingos” Waters, both fictional trips are rather similar in terms of weirdness and even scabrousness, at least in the eyes of those who aren’t J “PF” W. Fortunately, except for a handful of incidents (well, maybe more) that body-slam the boundaries of scatological toleration, both are pretty constantly hilarious and, when he somehow encounters such figures from his past as Edith Massey (the Egg Lady in PF) and 1980s gay porn star Johnny Davenport (whom Waters never knew, casually or biblically—alas!), sentimental. The real trip, hardly as ludicrous as the preceding fictions, takes longer, involves more drivers, and has Waters growing in admiration for the regular—but far from colorless!—people who pick him up, especially the married guys who praise their wives to the skies. Travel—uh, hitchhiking—book of the year? --Ray Olson

Review

Praise for Carsick

One of New York Magazine's 6 Books to Read This Summer 

One of Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books of 2014

"Fantastical and plush . . . Carsick becomes a portrait not just of America's desolate freeway nodes—though they are brilliantly evoked—but of American fame itself." —Lawrence Osborne, The New York Times Book Review

"In this, the seventh of his books, John Waters—the evil genuis of Baltimore, the living, breathing embodiment of camp, the man with the bristling pencil-thin mustache and vocabulary that would make a drill sargeant blush—betrays his deepest and darkest secret. In these pages the apostle of outrage—the actor, writer and director whose contributions to cinematic glory include "Pink Flamingos," "Mondo Trasho," and Hairspray"—reveals himself to be a . . . sentimentalis . . . underlying it all is a highly developed sense of fun, a desire to amuse more than to shock . . . Waters has made a funny engaging and—of course—occasionally outrageous book . . . All in all a cool trip and a delightful book." —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post        

"Mr. Waters has long been that relative rarity amoung American film directors. He can write. His memoirish volume Role Models is observant and light on its feet, and his essays and journalism, sure to be collected in their entirety someday, are fond, exotic well groomed, debonair—"natty," to borrow one of my father's favorite words . . . This writer has proved himself to be good company." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times  

"This is all good, dirty subversive fun . . . a good helping of unbridgled lewdness is surely to be expected, and no doubt cherished, from the man known as the king of filth and the pope of trash. However, once [Waters] gets on the road and begins his "real life" adventure, he comes across as a very different, and much more benign and vulnerable, figure. In many ways, he's an innocent . . . He also has to rely on the kindness of strangers, and he finds it everywhere. Quite a few people mistake him for a homeless man and try to give him a handout. Some of this is deeply moving . . . As he says in the book's acknowledgments, "If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term flyover people, I'll punch him in the mouth.' I do believe he will." —Geoff Nicholson, San Francisco Chronicle  

*Starred Review* "Waters idiosyncratically cuts to the core of American diversity, finding the good (and bad) in any situation with biting wit. The unlikely friendship Waters forms with a young Republican politician is an unexpected twist, and a timely tale of bromance in the midst of hardship. If a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and the pope of Trash can have an adventure in Reno together, aren't all things still possible in this world? But for Waters aficionadoes, the best parts of this enchanting narrative aren't the ones that actually happened. Fans will delight in the two novellas, with Waters at his campiest and most ludicrous, that precede the nonfiction third act . . . Waters devotees take note: this is required reading." —Publishers Weekly

"It’s rare to find a book that resembles no other book you’ve ever read. It’s rare to find a book that’s both funny and profound. John Waters’ Carsick is a doubly rare book." —Michael Cunningham, author of The Snow Queen

"Face it: Wouldn’t you rather strike out on the road with John Waters than Jack Kerouac?" —Kirkus Reviews

*Starred Review* "There’s nothing cheap—er, ungenerous—about Waters, the Pope of Trash (or Filth, or both). His new book is actually three (clap!), three (clap!), three books in one! All are based on the pitch he sold his publisher about hitchhiking from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco. Oh, he knew it was insane—"I’m sixty-six years old, for chrissake"—and so wrote it up in advance, just in case, once imagining "The Best That Could Happen," then again envisioning "The Worst That Could Happen." Because he is, after all, John "Pink Flamingos" Waters, both fictional trips are rather similar in terms of weirdness and even scabrousness, at least in the eyes of those who aren’t J "PF" W . . . Travel—uh, hitchhiking—book of the year?" —Ray Olson, Booklist

"A flavorful book, with the same cheeky sentimentality we experienced in Water's memoir Role Models plus a Divine-sized dose of kitsch. John Waters fans like me will be ecstatic." —Annie Coreno, Publishers Weekly

"John Waters is something of a living stunt, in the best possible way. A hero of both American and Americana, Waters has changed the culture of the country as much as any other living filmmaker—Errol Morris, Wes Anderson, or Paul Verhoeven." —Choire Sicha, Bookforum

Praise for Role Models

"Waters is a greater National Treasure than 90 percent of the people who are given ‘Kennedy Center Honors’ . . . [Waters] has the ability to show humanity at its most ridiculous and make that funny rather than repellent. To quote his linear ancestor W. C. Fields: It’s a gift."Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"John Waters has a great gift for appreciation—whether for toothless lesbian strippers in Baltimore or the most rarefied painters and writers of our day. He is a dandy who has done away with everyone else’s hierarchies and created a new world that conforms only to his own taste for trash and the sublime. He is frank, funny, and (strangely enough) both sensible and outrageous." —Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl

Praise for Crackpot

"John Waters, amoral filmmaker and moralist wit. Why do his collected essays make me chortle uncontrollably, thrilled to be alive? Wilde thing, you make my heart sing." —Carrie Rickey, LA Weekly

Praise for Shock Value

"Shock Value is shocking. Any honest account of human experience must be shocking. For it is the function of art to make the reader or viewer aware of what he knows and in most cases doesn’t know that he knows and doesn’t want to know." —William S. Burroughs

More About the Author

John Waters is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, and visual artist best known for his cult films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Cecil B. DeMented. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

A very entertaining read.
P. Fox
I was disappointed after I started reading and found out that the first 2/3 of the book was fiction.
JES
Evangelicals should probably steer clear, which for me is a reason to steer towards it!
Quinn D. Hubbard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By The IEMommy TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 4, 2014
Format: Audio CD
This is the first time I've listened to an audio book that was read by the author himself. That made Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America even more relatable and personal to me knowing it was was the voice behind the words actually reading them. It kind of elevates the experience to a whole new level. Especially when the voice is as recognizable as John Waters.

What's kind of funny is the whole time I was listening to this, I didn't realize that the beginning stories of those giving him rides were him fantasizing about what might happen. Those stories lasted so far into the story that I didn't even realize they were fantasy. Now when I was listening to them, I kept thinning "yea, right, like THAT really happened." Well, it didn't. But those certainly were some imaginative stories and are a token of the author's over active imagination!

Once he got through the Best Case Scenarios he moved on to the Worst Case and then the real stories of his journey hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco. While the Best Case were definitely the most entertaining to me, all are witty, imaginative and wacky.

As a Christian blogger I would feel it remiss not to mention that there is quite a bit of swearing , sexual situations and innuendos, drugs and most things that some would find offensive. If you know John Waters than that is to be expected. But if you're listening to the audio version, don't put it on with kids in the car and if you are easily offended, don't listen at all.

John Waters is certainly one of a kind and his story telling abilities are amazing both in the writing itself and in his reading of it. Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America is certainly entertaining, wildly amusing and there is never a dull moment whether it be real or imagined.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Charles W Smith on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
FROM PAGE 224 of "CARSICK"

"I see one of the cute gearheads from yesterday in his pickup pull into the gas station. He's still racing around, hopping in his truck, peeling out to drive the short distance to the other gas station. What on earth is he doing? He must have seen me by now, too! I've been hitching out in front of where he works for two days, but he still resists any greeting. I'm so bored and frustrated I pretend I have a crush on him in an inappropriate Jane Bowles kind of way."

I was already in love with John Waters' latest literary precis of modern culture, Carsick, but the above quoted paragraph on page 224 was the clincher. It speaks to a particular reality of un-reality; being of a particular age of a particular experience of a particular proclivity, standing in full view yet relegated to the sidelines, watching the world race inanely to and fro, feeling dichotomously envious and dismissive, inventing a fantasy context in which one could possibly -- somehow -- become again engaged in life, and yet, knowing that context created from one's own rarefied, recondite frame of reference, a reality of such obscurity -- constructed of a combination of little known nearly lost literary and cultural personal icons, D-list and down on their luck faded entertainers, and porn star legends and tropes thereof long disappeared -- is a context unlikely to be shared, understood, or, even, accepted by anyone else on this earth.

This is a book about being alone. Best case. Worst case. Real case. A clever construct of good fantasy, bad fantasy, and real - un-real life. And all of the versions of all of the stories are lessons in learning to love the encounters that, however briefly, relieve that solitary journey across and through time. Mr.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By randy on June 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i really enjoyed this book. i bought the audible edition, which is narrated by mr. waters himself. i felt as if i were right there beside john the entire time! the book was funny and uplifting. an absolute must for any dreamland fan!! i really liked the best/worse case fantasy scenarios before the actual account of the trip. mr. water's narration was right on!! i hope he is already dreaming up his next filthy book!! i can't wait!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Schnabel on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a huge John Waters fan, and JW fans will LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I have read all his books, seen the movies, etc.... and it helps to be a fan (when he references other works, stories, etc... like his obsession with Gertrude Baniszewski). The "Worst" section of the book is hysterical, and I couldn't stop laughing (it was funny and sad at the same time). I love a great book/writer when you feel like you are actually in the room hanging out with them. John Waters is that writer. I'm not sure an "ordinary" book lover will get this book 100%, but I highly recommend it. Please John, don't stop writing!!!!

Edit... months after my review. This book is getting mean, horrible reviews... so let me stress this: If you are a Waters fan-- you will 100% adore this book. If you have never heard of Waters, or just enjoyed Hairspray (not Pink Flamingos) then pass on it. Don't blame John if you bought this book and knew nothing of his actual lifestyle.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gene Belcher on June 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let me say from the start that I'm not a huge fan of John Waters' films. I don't hate them, they're just not my thing. John Waters the celebrity, on the other hand, I enjoy very much! In this book you get to spend a lot of quality time with John the celebrity juxtaposed against average Americans from the middle of the country. It's pretty damn entertaining!

The book is divided into three parts: The Best That Could Happen, The Worst That Could Happen and The Real Thing. The first two sections are obviously fiction (I'm amazed at some of the negative reviews that thought that these were presented as fact, when they're way, way over the top and clearly labelled as fiction) and it becomes immediately apparent that John knows that fame is a two-edged sword. If he enjoys basking in the glow of being famous and being adored for it, he is also aware that there are many that dislike him for that status as well. The first two sections were laugh out loud funny. The level of absurdity in each section was a treat! A little warning, though, there are a lot of sexually explicit descriptions in these two parts of the book. If you're sensitive about such issues, then you best stay clear! The third section is what actually occurred and while I enjoyed it, it just didn't match the narrative tension of the first two parts of the book, which is kinda how reality and fiction work in the real world. There were no prolonged four plus hour waits at highway on-ramps in either of his fictional accounts. Tedium is generally edited out of fiction.

So the last third of the book downshifts and takes a decidedly slower pace, but I still enjoyed it. John is a worrywort, but generally an optimist.
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