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Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America Paperback – May 12, 2015
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*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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“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 genius of Baltimore, the living, breathing embodiment of camp, the man with the bristling pencil-thin mustache and vocabulary that would make a drill sergeant 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 . . . sentimentalist . . . 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 among 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 unbridled 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
Top customer reviews
The idea of making up fake hitchhiking scenarios is fun and for the first couple chapters, it's funny, but then it drags on and on for most of the book. I'm ready to skip the fiction, because it really isn't entertaining at all at this point, to get to what really ended up happening.
Right before starting this book, I read Role Models and totally loved it. Carsick is a drag.
The non-fiction story really lets us into John Waters' head. Its fun. I found it ironic that after the two fantasy stories that relied so heavily on his public person to drive the story the non-fiction relied on average people and their varied reactions, from taking care not to engage, to caring people going out of their way to help, regardless of who the hitchhiker was. I got the feeling John Waters was really pleasantly surprised how happy the "normal" people he met were. He spent quite a while in Kansas, and I have to admit on a road trip in another part of the US a couple of years ago I met really friendly "normal" people from Kansas.
We warned John Waters does let you into his thoughts and his fantasies in the book - don't expect something "nice".
I skipped the fictional bad rides portion because my mind just cannot take horror stories, but for those who like horror, certainly go there!
While the real story of his adventure paled in comparison, I was fascinated by its truth. As a writer currently writing about travelers, I wished he had stayed on the streets at night. While I realize it would have been scary, I really believe if he had hooked up with other travelers, he would have had a time as great as his imagination.
Way to go John! Keep writing brave soul! You've got talent!
Not only does this book feature John Waters' true account of his hitchhiking trip, but it also has two novellas of what he imagines to be the best hitchhiking trip imaginable which is upbeat and hopeful, but still keeps that level of John Waters' filth that his people such as myself cling to and the worst hitchhiking trip imaginable which tests the main character similar to how Francine Fishpaw was dragged through a living hell in Polyester.
Both novellas are fun reads and as imaginative and John Watersish as you'd hope and pray they'd be.
It's an amazing read as a man who was either sixty five or sixty six tell you about how he did something very few anymore have the balls to do, something that was so common in his youth. It's a book that is Americana as apple pie and baseball because in my opinion, rest stops and cheap hotels are far more American than the first two any day of the week.
I've yet to read On The Road (because I never attended college so I never went through a snobbish stoner beatnik phase) but I assume Carsick to be the more enjoyable and fun read. Like anything John Waters does, he gives you a different flavor that you have yet to try or even imagine, like if your creepy uncle got to invent his own Ben and Jerry's flavor.