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John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "Im Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "I’m Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash? Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road?


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John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "Im Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "I’m Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash? Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road?

30 review for Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    This is a book in three parts. The first two parts were 2 star at best. At absolute best. They were John Waters idea of a) the best road trip novel possible and b) the worst road trip novel possible. Although he says he wrote them first, I wonder if he didn't write them later sitting with his editor who was trying to get him to make something of length to publish as a book. Maybe he just threw out this crazy idea (being John Waters this is probably his modus operandi) and the editor either said This is a book in three parts. The first two parts were 2 star at best. At absolute best. They were John Waters idea of a) the best road trip novel possible and b) the worst road trip novel possible. Although he says he wrote them first, I wonder if he didn't write them later sitting with his editor who was trying to get him to make something of length to publish as a book. Maybe he just threw out this crazy idea (being John Waters this is probably his modus operandi) and the editor either said YES! or 'Uou're going to do it anyway so go ahead'. The third part is absolutely excellent. It's the actual road trip from his home and office in Baltimore to his apartment in trendy gay San Francisco. He sets out with a rucksack, cardboard signs, business cards printed with 'thanks for the lift' and his credit cards. He meets some quite extraordinary people, most of whom seem quite fictional creations that are try-outs for future bizarre films he might make and checks in each night with his two secretaries back in his office. What emerges is that John Waters is every bit as eccentric as everyone thinks that anyone who could make "Pink Flamingoes" must be. He's a tremendously polite gentleman who just doesn't think the way anyone else does. I'm not entirely convinced any or all of the book is actually true but it doesn't matter either way because it was 100% John Waters. Note: If you've never watched Pink Flamingoes, watch it, but don't read more than a brief synopsis first or the ending will be spoiled for you. Also don't watch the film (or at least the ending) unless you have a Very Strong Stomach and are not eating at the time. Anyone whose seen the film will be nodding sagely at this point. Don't ask, just finish the popcorn first. (view spoiler)[Notes before reading. As Pooh said, "Time for a little something different". Actually he didn't say'different' because he never wanted anything different, just honey. But he did say "Time for a little something" repeatedly. And that's how I feel about reading, it's always time to read something. But something different after reading in the last few weeks, Jean Paul Sartre's Huis Clos, Libba Bray's Beauty Queen's, Paul Burrell's paean to Diana, Royal Duty, the Vatican Diaries, Room and a whole load of other books, heavy and light. I just want something really really different and I think Carsick is it. I have to say Birth Control Is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and Also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!! was really different (really, really) but it wasn't enjoyable, or not in a conventional sense, but it was a 5 star 'read'. My Parents Open Carry was also very different but not only not enjoyable it was only a 1 star. So with Pink Flamingos in mind, I'm hoping John Waters will do it for me. (hide spoiler)] Book read October 2014

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    What a fun book! In May 2012, cult film director John Waters hitchhiked from his home in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco, carrying a tote bag and cardboard signs that read "End of 70-West" and "I'm Not Psycho." Besides a few clean clothes, an umbrella and travel-size toiletries, Waters also had a stack of autographed business cards that said THANKS FOR THE LIFT, which he would hand out to the drivers who gave him a ride. But "Carsick" is more than just a travelogue of his hitchiking What a fun book! In May 2012, cult film director John Waters hitchhiked from his home in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco, carrying a tote bag and cardboard signs that read "End of 70-West" and "I'm Not Psycho." Besides a few clean clothes, an umbrella and travel-size toiletries, Waters also had a stack of autographed business cards that said THANKS FOR THE LIFT, which he would hand out to the drivers who gave him a ride. But "Carsick" is more than just a travelogue of his hitchiking adventure. First, Waters wrote a novella imagining the best things that could happen, such as meeting a drug dealer who would give him $5 million to make a movie, meeting old friends who had died years ago, and falling in love with a beautiful man. In Part 2, he wrote the worst things that could happen, like getting caught all day in pouring rain, meeting crazy super-fans, being murdered and going to hell, etc. (Some of the colorful events that Waters included in the Best part would fall into my Worst category, because Waters hoped it would make a saucier book.) He even includes a playlist of songs to go along with each chapter. We don't find out what really happened until Part 3, which was my favorite section. Honestly, I wasn't crazy about the Best and Worst novellas, and didn't start to really like the book until Waters began his hitchhiking adventure for real. But he's such a good storyteller and I enjoyed Part 3 so much that it made up for the wackiness of the fictional versions. Waters has 21 different rides from Baltimore to San Fransisco, and only about half of the drivers knew who he was. Some people thought he was homeless and tried to give him money. Others didn't believe him when he told them he was a film director. Waters did have some truly horrible days. He got stuck in Kansas for what seemed like an eternity, poor man. But he also had some excellent times, including getting picked up by an indie rock band in Ohio, and making friends with a "Corvette kid" who gave him a lift in Maryland, and a few days later drove all the way to Colorado to give Waters a second lift. "I'd like to praise the drivers who picked me up. If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term fly-over people, I'll punch him in the mouth. My riders were brave and open-minded, and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be. They are the only heroes in this book." As someone who lives in a so-called flyover state and who hates that term, I appreciate that, sir. Fans of John Waters will probably love this book; he makes great references to his films and other projects, and there are even some behind-the-scenes stories. Waters comes across as a genuinely nice guy -- he's courteous and thoughtful and funny and he truly listens to people. Hell, I wish I could go on a road trip with him.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    This is the first time I've been disappointed by John Waters. Only the last third of the book is an account of his hitchhiking experience. This slender work of nonfiction is beefed up with two "novella," one that imagines the worst possible hitchhiking experience and one that imagines the best. Tedious, very tedious. It's always been true that Waters is, underneath his filthy persona, a heck of a nice guy. But, here, he's a little too nice. Everybody is so darn nice. Not one bad ride. His only This is the first time I've been disappointed by John Waters. Only the last third of the book is an account of his hitchhiking experience. This slender work of nonfiction is beefed up with two "novella," one that imagines the worst possible hitchhiking experience and one that imagines the best. Tedious, very tedious. It's always been true that Waters is, underneath his filthy persona, a heck of a nice guy. But, here, he's a little too nice. Everybody is so darn nice. Not one bad ride. His only bad experience is bad weather for hitchhiking. I suspect that stories about hitchhiking are really only interesting to other people who have hitchhiked: "what was your longest ride? where were you hassled by cops? who scared the bejeezus out you? did you get laid?" That sort of thing. Another complaint: no pictures! Waters mentions numerous pictures that were taken but none of them appear in the book. I'm not saying it needed to be lavishly illustrated but some of the places he describes would have benefited by an accompanying photo. I mean, the jacked copy does describe him as a "visual artist."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynx

    Most people in their mid-sixties are content to stay at home and watch Law & Order reruns, but John Waters isn't like most people. Packing his faux crocodile bag with the bare essentials Waters leaves his home in Baltimore with one goal - hitchhike all the way to the door of his San Francisco apartment and write about all about it. Separated into three sections, the best that could happen, the worst, and the reality, John Waters unorthodox imagination and wild reality make this an Most people in their mid-sixties are content to stay at home and watch Law & Order reruns, but John Waters isn't like most people. Packing his faux crocodile bag with the bare essentials Waters leaves his home in Baltimore with one goal - hitchhike all the way to the door of his San Francisco apartment and write about all about it. Separated into three sections, the best that could happen, the worst, and the reality, John Waters unorthodox imagination and wild reality make this an entertaining journey perfect for lazy afternoons. So pick up this book, sit back and let the Master of Filth take you for ride. 3.5/5

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ken Dowell

    I'm over John Waters. A story about him hitchhiking across America sounds pretty interesting. But apparently he didn't think it was that compelling because the first two-thirds of the book is a fictionalized version of what the trip might be like. One story is of an Indiana cop who picks him up and drives him through the state popping poppers all along the way. Before this ride is done they get out of the car and do a song and dance routine on the side of the road. Sound preposterous? How about I'm over John Waters. A story about him hitchhiking across America sounds pretty interesting. But apparently he didn't think it was that compelling because the first two-thirds of the book is a fictionalized version of what the trip might be like. One story is of an Indiana cop who picks him up and drives him through the state popping poppers all along the way. Before this ride is done they get out of the car and do a song and dance routine on the side of the road. Sound preposterous? How about the one in which Waters gets sodomized by an alien which results in a magic anus which he uses to inflate a flat tire a little further down the road. Those are the "good" imaginary rides. The bad ones include an exploding goiter, a puss-leaking infected tattoo, and in the ultimate bad ride, a beheading. Give me a break! I realize that if you are going to see or read a Waters creation, you should expect campy and trashy. But I expected a little insight or at minimum some laughs. I found neither. Perhaps I should have looked at the back cover of this book before I started it. All of the comments are about other books. A bad sign. When Waters eventually gets to writing about his actual voyage you can see why he felt the need to juice things up with some fiction. You can romanticize hitchhiking but in reality it is pretty boring, involving mostly waiting for rides and worrying about where you're going to be eating and sleeping. I'm sure Waters has cult followers who will find this pretty intriguing. I'm not one of them so I didn't.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bertha

    Should have read the reviews! I thought it would be interesting to read about a celebrity hitchhiking across the country, encountering all kinds of different people...Unfortunately the first 2/3rds of this book are ridiculous fictional stories of what he thinks COULD happen on the trip. While I'm not offended by John Waters, I had no interest in his non-sensical porny LSD-style fantasies. A few at the beginning would have been fine but when they take up the first 65% of what's supposed to be a Should have read the reviews! I thought it would be interesting to read about a celebrity hitchhiking across the country, encountering all kinds of different people...Unfortunately the first 2/3rds of this book are ridiculous fictional stories of what he thinks COULD happen on the trip. While I'm not offended by John Waters, I had no interest in his non-sensical porny LSD-style fantasies. A few at the beginning would have been fine but when they take up the first 65% of what's supposed to be a non-fiction book, it's irritating. I like fiction just fine, but that's not why I bought this book! MEH!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Is it possible that there is anyone in the world who dislikes John Waters? Who by his very nature is America's favorite slightly wacko uncle. Democrat, Republican and basic citizen adore this man, because he is so... decent. Also who wouldn't want to be John Waters for a minute or two. In fact the beauty of his books "Role Models," Crackpot," "Shock Value," and now "Carsick" is that we as readers can share the same breathing space while reading his words. Often we don't want the book to be over, Is it possible that there is anyone in the world who dislikes John Waters? Who by his very nature is America's favorite slightly wacko uncle. Democrat, Republican and basic citizen adore this man, because he is so... decent. Also who wouldn't want to be John Waters for a minute or two. In fact the beauty of his books "Role Models," Crackpot," "Shock Value," and now "Carsick" is that we as readers can share the same breathing space while reading his words. Often we don't want the book to be over, but alas, the last pages call out to us. "Carsick" is a simple premise, that can only work for Waters. The great figure decides to hitchhike from his home in Baltimore to his other home in San Francisco. The first part of the book is too good. Almost impossible good things happen to him. I had to re-read the title page of that section, "The Best Could Happen and stupid me miss the "a novella" heading underneath the title. It's hysterical of course, and the second part is even better - "The Worst That Could Happen." If it was just those two sections it could have been an Ace book from the 1950s, where they used to print two separate novellas side-by-side, but one would flip over, as in upside down. The third part is the "truth," and here he exposes the hardship of hitchhiking, but it does have its rewarding moments. Some of the people recognize him, and some don't. But what's amazing is the general kindness that he comes across as he goes on his journey. Strangers want to give him money thinking he's down on his luck. I think all of this happened because Waters just radiates 'good person. ' This is very much a feel-good type of book, that doesn't suck.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Snotchocheez

    2.5 stars It's not like I'm a rabid John Waters fan. I really admire the bizarro ideas rattling through the guy's mind more than I appreciate any of his finished products. Any self-respecting cineaste can't go without at least sampling a few of Waters' oddities. (A few of them successful: "Hairspray" and "Serial Mom" are my fave movies of his. A great many more just fall in the quirky-dumb to quirky ick-car-wreck continuum, like "Female Trouble", "Polyester" {with Odorama scratch-n-sniff 2.5 starsIt's not like I'm a rabid John Waters fan. I really admire the bizarro ideas rattling through the guy's mind more than I appreciate any of his finished products. Any self-respecting cineaste can't go without at least sampling a few of Waters' oddities. (A few of them successful: "Hairspray" and "Serial Mom" are my fave movies of his. A great many more just fall in the quirky-dumb to quirky ick-car-wreck continuum, like "Female Trouble", "Polyester" {with Odorama scratch-n-sniff cards...including fart and airplane glue scents}, and of course "Pink Flamingos" {where Waters' fave transvestite Divine vies for Baltimore's Filthiest Person Alive title...yecch}).. Waters whole stock in trade as a filmmaker seems to be to push the envelope with quirky, disgusting schlock, without really backing it up with any substance. There are few degrees of separation between Waters oeuvre and porn. Yet, I'm strangely compelled by him, and have to check out what he does (even if I know it's going to suck. I've never denied being a masochist.) Somehow, Waters closes that gap (between his oeuvre and porn) with his his *ahem* non-fictional Carsick, his chronicle of hitchhiking from his house in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco. I'm not sure what Waters or his publisher were thinking here, but...holy crap...why they felt they needed to embellish his account with fiction (and not just fiction, but old geezer wet-dreamy boyporn) was utterly beyond me. Just so you know, I'm not easily offended. (and I wasn't offended here, just aghast) but why? oh? why? It's like (John Waters seems to think) absent the visual medium, to push that envelope you have to be ten-times more disgusting in a book than you do on the big screen. The last third of the book (with his real, as-advertised road trip) was totally fine, definitely four star worthy. The first two-thirds though? A never-ending sea of reject road-trip porn movie scenarios, which were actually somewhat funny at first, but became banal after the third (or twenty--third, even) instance of them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    FabulousRaye

    Well, it's John Waters, and he's my Lord and Savior. (Seriously, my FB profile says John Waters under religion and FILTH with Divine's speech from PINK FLAMINGOS under politics.) I bought the hardcover version as a 37th birthday present to myself. I also have the ebook and audio book versions. I really, really super like the latter, because John Waters narrates it. I enjoy hearing him say "asshole". I keep seeing reviews where people complain about the first two thirds of the book being fiction. Well, it's John Waters, and he's my Lord and Savior. (Seriously, my FB profile says John Waters under religion and FILTH with Divine's speech from PINK FLAMINGOS under politics.) I bought the hardcover version as a 37th birthday present to myself. I also have the ebook and audio book versions. I really, really super like the latter, because John Waters narrates it. I enjoy hearing him say "asshole". I keep seeing reviews where people complain about the first two thirds of the book being fiction. Hey Stupid, he says right in the beginning that the Good and Bad rides are fantasies! Who cares about that! Fiction or not, it's hilarious. I was slightly uncomfortable with the sex scenes, but I quickly got over it. Not cause he's gay. I just never heard John Waters talk about his sex life and never gave it any thought. Some of the book's material is recycled from his one man show THIS FILTHY WORLD. I noticed it, cause I've watched the movie version 167 times. I did feel really bad for him when he got stuck looking for a ride in Ohio. I live in this state, so I know how weird and boring it is. Luckily, he got picked up by an local band and soon got on his way to another state. Anyhow, whatever form you like your reading material in, I recommend you pick this up. It's fabulous and quite enjoyable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Dinning

    Be warned, it's a crazy, graphic, hilarious book. I love John Waters and he did not disappoint. It's not for everyone, but personally, loved it! #dontjudge

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    When I was still an adolescent, I was given a copy of the Movies Unlimited catalog, a thick, small-fonted, glossy-paged piece of junk mail that left me instantly captivated. It seemed as though every movie that had ever been made was available for order from its pages, thousands upon thousands of DVDs and VHS tapes, all arranged haphazardly in a layout that now seems almost anarchic. But I loved movies, even at that age, and I pored over every colored column or shaded insert, beginning with the When I was still an adolescent, I was given a copy of the Movies Unlimited catalog, a thick, small-fonted, glossy-paged piece of junk mail that left me instantly captivated. It seemed as though every movie that had ever been made was available for order from its pages, thousands upon thousands of DVDs and VHS tapes, all arranged haphazardly in a layout that now seems almost anarchic. But I loved movies, even at that age, and I pored over every colored column or shaded insert, beginning with the films and directors I knew--Hitchcock, The Wild Bunch, Tim Burton, Jurassic Park, anything with John Wayne or Vincent Price--and moving on to ones I didn't, until I came to Pink Flamingos, a solitary film whose very description defied my comprehension: The landmark "exercise in poor taste"....that still fascinates and repels moviegoers. From a trailer hideout near Baltimore, "filthiest person alive" Divine and her demented family defend her title from would-be usurpers David Lochary and Mink Stole, and the results include rape, incest, cannibalism, cruelty to chickens, and the most famous film ending since "King Kong." With Mary Vivian Pearce, Danny Mills, and Edith Massey as Edie the Egg Lady. 108 min. What's more, the catalog publishers included a photograph of the VHS cover: an obese drag queen wrapped in tight pink fabric, her blond hair drawn back behind an ocean of bald scalp, and a cosmetic-counter's worth of make-up painting her face up like a clown's. She held a gun in one hand while the other sat cocked on her hip--the very personification of grit and defiance. I didn't know what to think of the film and its description, though I imagined a poorly-done melodrama in trailer-park CinemaScope, but I knew I had to see the film. I would never get the courage to ask my parents to purchase it for me--it was rated NC17--and it would take me at least another decade to track down a copy on my own, but in that moment on the floor of our living room, a ten-year-old was suddenly introduced to John Waters. In the years since, I've grown to love John Waters, not just for his ability to bask in all things controversial without any hint of irony--an unconditional love of sorts--but for his belief that people should be unabashedly themselves, especially in a world that demands conformity. In turn, the Baltimore filmmaker, once an infamous director of censor-worthy "smut," is now an American cultural institution, something even he would have never predicted all those years ago. He has appeared in guest roles on television, most notably as himself on The Simpsons, where his animated character challenged Homer's homophobia; hosted a true-crime show on CourtTV; had a supporting role in one of the Chucky horror films; has been interviewed on late-night TV multiple times by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, and Craig Ferguson; had his books published by a renowned publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; had one of his films, Hairspray, turned into a Tony-winning Broadway musical; and had his traveling monologue filmed and given a wide release on DVD and Netflix Instant. In a way, the world in which John Waters basked so beautifully all those decades ago has become the America we now know, where filth, fetish, and brazen individuality have gone mainstream, if not actually become the norm. Which, it turns out, can be a problem, even for John Waters. Now that he is an elder statesmen of sorts, he is surrounded by men and women--writers, filmmakers, artists--who have pushed boundaries even further, and what was once filthy is by modern standards almost dull. Which means the first two-thirds of his newest book, Carsick, don't quite have the desired effect as they would have had twenty years ago. Imagining the best possible hitchhiking journey across the continental United States, Waters populates his fantasy with attractive young men, a kidnapped pro-lifer stuffed in the trunk of a stolen car, a sideshow where his lack of tattoos makes him the main attraction, and demolition-derby sex reminiscent of something J.G. Ballard wrote about in the 70s. The stories are cheeky and fun, though it's almost impossible not to bemoan how innocent it all seems. Waters has given himself 100 pages to imagine the most hedonistic, indulgent, and pleasurable road trip he can, and his delivers a dozen rides that are underwhelming. The next hundred pages, in which Waters imagines the worst that could possibly happen, are substantially better in terms of the depravity and feculence--both figurative and literal--that Waters inflicts on himself: a suicidal drunk-driver who has removed seat-belts from his car; an ecoterrorist fighting for "garbage diversity"; an animal-rights activist infested with tapeworms; a real-life killer resurrected from the dead; an entire small town in Kansas where homophobia reigns supreme; unstoppable public diarrhea; and so on. It almost becomes a game of sorts, to see how Waters will take the misery that has been visited on him by a highway of disturbed Americans and feed it so that it grows exponentially worse, and always for himself. Essentially, these thirteen rides are the embodiment of John Waters, in which unrestrained liberal thinking and thoughtless conservative ideals collide to form a world in which everyone is disgusting while also being disgusted at each other. The final third of the book is the impetus behind the preceding 200 fantasy-borne pages: Waters has decided to hitchhike across America, from Baltimore to San Francisco, all through the power of his personality, the wagging of a thumb, and a wonderfully simple series of cardboard signs. He worries that no one will pick him up, and he wonders if the good/bad scenarios he's already written will be the last words he ever writes before disappearing along Highway 70--a strange, foreboding artifact of an unfinished and unusual life. But what Waters discovers is a country of people who are kind, considerate, and accepting, regardless of race, age, class, politics, orientation, or location. He is given rides from, among others, a minister's wife, a small-town mayor, a coal-miner, a cop, an indie rock band, a judge and his activist wife, and--twice--a young Republican from Maryland who keeps driving, despite his parents' concern that he's been kidnapped by a madman. By the time Waters' journey ends, he's cut a path across the entire country, stood outside in extreme weather for hours, almost given up, and found himself happily surprised by the people who will open their vehicles to a random stranger. It is as far from a John Waters film as you can get: no filth, no outrage, no melodramatic emotions, no kitsch, just average Americans trying to do right by each other in the only way some of them know how. And even though Waters' fame sometimes makes getting rides easier, most of the people who pick him up don't know who he is, and a few even scoff at the idea that he is a filmmaker. There's a temptation to look at the final third of Carsick and make an overreaching statement about America now being so open-minded that uneventful rides are now the norm--that Waters' trip is shocking because of its ordinariness, and most hitchhiking trips are joyrides of danger and debauchery--but such impulses are ridiculous, even when they fit in nicely with Waters' pop-culture acceptance. Instead, through Waters we see an America that moves as one, in spite of the million individual differences radiating just beneath the surface. It is the validation of something John Waters has known and celebrated for decades--that we are a nation constantly pushing out at the boundaries keeping us in, if only to be the people we have always told ourselves we are. This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mmars

    This is one of those books that will appear in library books sales for years to come---much like the majority of celebrity written autobiographies. And, many people like me, curious what it would be like to pick up John Waters on the side of the interstate, will snarf it up Whereas many people were so-so with the first two invented sections of good and bad trips and liked the third, the real story best, I had lots of problems with that section as well. Lesson learned: If you want to hitchhike This is one of those books that will appear in library books sales for years to come---much like the majority of celebrity written autobiographies. And, many people like me, curious what it would be like to pick up John Waters on the side of the interstate, will snarf it up Whereas many people were so-so with the first two invented sections of good and bad trips and liked the third, the real story best, I had lots of problems with that section as well. Lesson learned: If you want to hitchhike across America a) be famous in an obscure way and b) have enough money to stay in motels and buy people gas. It saddened me that John Waters, who has parodied nearly every stereotype of America’s underbelly was so out-of-touch with working day Americans. A majority of his rides came from everyday Joes or Joes and Janes who were content in their marriages, worked blue collar jobs, and just plain went about their business as usual. This surprised him. Really? Who do you think drives from city to city on the interstate? He had also never shopped in Walmart before and the most important thing to him in a hotel room was the lighting. Well, I guess he is a film director. The kindness of Americans came through again and again. Perhaps the most touching was a woman who gave HIM money thinking he was homeless! The review that interested me in this book bragged up what a nice guy John Waters really proves himself to be. I dunno. His fantasy rides were all really (no surprise) sick and not worth the pages they were written on. And the real winners here are our everyday Joes. If he really was such a nice guy, some of the profits from this book would go to those who truly are homeless and without wheels.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    This book is a bit of a bait and switch. Ostensibly about Waters' trip hitchhiking across the U.S., it only gets to the non-fiction version of that trip in the last third. Prior to that, Waters offers two fictionalized accounts of what he imagined the trip might be like prior to leaving: one in which everything goes right and one in which everything goes wrong. Both are only sporadically entertaining, filled with grotesque characters and absurdand often borderline pornographicsituations that This book is a bit of a bait and switch. Ostensibly about Waters' trip hitchhiking across the U.S., it only gets to the non-fiction version of that trip in the last third. Prior to that, Waters offers two fictionalized accounts of what he imagined the trip might be like prior to leaving: one in which everything goes right and one in which everything goes wrong. Both are only sporadically entertaining, filled with grotesque characters and absurd—and often borderline pornographic—situations that feel like odds and ends that never fit into his screenplays. Or maybe they're characters from a great Waters road movie that will never get made: Waters makes it clear that the down economy means he's still struggling to follow up his last movie, which came out 10 years ago. (Incidentally, I like A DIRTY SHAME. Am I alone in that?) The best moments are when Waters' lets bits of his biography slip into the stories, particularly a poignant (but typically gross) chapter in which he meets his one-time star Edith Massey, having learned she faked her death many years ago. The last third, however, is a delight. Waters goes looking for America and despite some rough patches on the road here and there, America offers a karmic reward to his generous, filthy spirit. Non-diehards can skip to the good stuff.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda Conklin

    Oh My Gosh! The first two-thirds of this book were a colosal waste of time. They were fictional rides not worth reading unless you're a really gay man who loves John Waters. The final third of the book spoke of the real rides. It was fun and well written. I wish he had just given us the real story. He could have bumped up the content with some photos. He mentions a lot of photos being taken but only a couple were included at the end of the book. Overall, I would say your money and time would be Oh My Gosh! The first two-thirds of this book were a colosal waste of time. They were fictional rides not worth reading unless you're a really gay man who loves John Waters. The final third of the book spoke of the real rides. It was fun and well written. I wish he had just given us the real story. He could have bumped up the content with some photos. He mentions a lot of photos being taken but only a couple were included at the end of the book. Overall, I would say your money and time would be better spent elsewhere.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    In fairness to John Waters, I found it impossible to finish this book, so it's probably not entirely ok for me to rate it. However, in fairness to potential readers, I feel it's my duty to inform them that if they don't plan on dropping acid before reading this book their chances of actually enjoying it are less than 50%. I got about a quarter of the way through it - and I had to force myself - and finally just decided to skip to part 2. I spent a little time trudging that section and realized In fairness to John Waters, I found it impossible to finish this book, so it's probably not entirely ok for me to rate it. However, in fairness to potential readers, I feel it's my duty to inform them that if they don't plan on dropping acid before reading this book their chances of actually enjoying it are less than 50%. I got about a quarter of the way through it - and I had to force myself - and finally just decided to skip to part 2. I spent a little time trudging that section and realized that it was more of the same absurdness. I considered working my way through to the "real" story, and realized I had already spent enough time. There was no way I needed to throw any more into conquering it. Clearly there are a lot of folks that love this style, but even though I generally enjoy the absurd, I didn't enjoy this example of it. None of it really made any sense to me, and I sort of felt like you had to be a lover of his movies to even 'get' some of the anecdotes. (I haven't seen any of his movies, and he is the brand marketing this, so that facet I do not fault the book for.) He is clearly an extremely creative individual, but letting loose with the creativity in this case means that there is not much to frame the stories besides hitchhiking from point A to point B. And I fear that alone is not enough to support stories of this length. Also, I think the book is meant to be funny, but I didn't find humor in any of it. And the novellas just seemed to go. on. for. ever. Mr. Waters, did you get that advance contingent on delivery of a manuscript with a certain number of words?? In summary, if you're a huge fan of John Waters' style, absurdist humor, or you simply like to get high before reading, this may be the book for you. If not, I wouldn't recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    1-95, Central Florida... Thumbing by the northern on ramp... Torrential sheets of rain day... Prostitutes don't carry umbrellas... The light Buick Regal, two-tone... Not Tommy, but two-tone automobile... Hydroplanes to the side of the highway, honks... She runs/splashes, her bag in front of her face... Otherwise she can't see God for the rain... Inching alongside the car, she memorizes everything... She jerks the passenger door open violently... Squinting hard at the automobilist and half nods... Her 1-95, Central Florida... Thumbing by the northern on ramp... Torrential sheets of rain day... Prostitutes don't carry umbrellas... The light Buick Regal, two-tone... Not Tommy, but two-tone automobile... Hydroplanes to the side of the highway, honks... She runs/splashes, her bag in front of her face... Otherwise she can't see God for the rain... Inching alongside the car, she memorizes everything... She jerks the passenger door open violently... Squinting hard at the automobilist and half nods... Her mascara streaks hopelessly down her face... He fits the profile, middle-aged and white... She jumps in and he asks, "Where you going?" She pulls a .22 Caliber pistol on him... And barks, "No! Where are we going!" Fast forward... To the ever and ever time... Car parked in the dense woods... Thick tree trunks, leaves dripping sky... Miles in from the highway... "There is dying bastards and then there's dead, you bastard!!" She bow and arrow's the words with a guttural roar... Profile man is shot to pieces... A.K.A Automobile Man and Prospective John... He is nothing more... Aileen Wuornos jacks his wallet and jewelry... Drives off in the Buick... Straight to her crumb-bumb motel... And girlfriend too... Repeat same, six more times... Get the death penalty, the needle... This is a hitchhiking story... The only one worth telling... John Waters' is a distant second... But it's always been like that for him... Chris Roberts, God of Highways

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

    Like always, John Waters is still his charming self and is still a nice man, however this time, unlike Shock Value, the book got extremely repetitive and got rather "gaggy" at times. Before he actually talks about his actual car trip, there are two novellas...one labeled "The Best that Could Happen" and "The Worst that Could Happen", both novellas talk about fictional good and bad car trips. They were both funny but the ending of "THe Worst that Could Happen" was totally over-the-top and Like always, John Waters is still his charming self and is still a nice man, however this time, unlike Shock Value, the book got extremely repetitive and got rather "gaggy" at times. Before he actually talks about his actual car trip, there are two novellas...one labeled "The Best that Could Happen" and "The Worst that Could Happen", both novellas talk about fictional good and bad car trips. They were both funny but the ending of "THe Worst that Could Happen" was totally over-the-top and ridiculous. By the time I finished the two novellas and was actually on the part with the real car trips, I was tired about reading him hopping in cars going on zany adventures. The "real" part of the book is rather boring, actually. Some parts were cool and funny but most of the time I was desperate for it to all end. Not the worst book, definitely entertaining but very repetitive. I liked Shock Value a LOT better.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    The Pope of Trash takes to the highways! Armed with his cardboard signs, John Waters is determined to hitchhike from his home in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco. What he gives us are some funny, thrilling, terrifying and profound adventures. Its told in 3 ways: Best Case Scenarios, Worse Case Scenarios, and The Real Thing. With a playlist to boot! An exciting road trip memoir that just might inspire you to hit the road in your own way. The Pope of Trash takes to the highways! Armed with his cardboard signs, John Waters is determined to hitchhike from his home in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco. What he gives us are some funny, thrilling, terrifying and profound adventures. It’s told in 3 ways: Best Case Scenarios, Worse Case Scenarios, and The Real Thing. With a playlist to boot! An exciting road trip memoir that just might inspire you to hit the road in your own way.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is a fabulous book which makes an even better audiobook when narrated by its author. Travelogues and memoirs make great audiobooks. It does have a crude streak (like John Water's films), so it's not for the faint of heart. The basic theme of the book though when you get past the crudeness it's basically about how decent humanity is and how we connect with each other across barriers of race, class, sexuality, gender, and even party affiliation. The real ride that takes him the furthest is a This is a fabulous book which makes an even better audiobook when narrated by its author. Travelogues and memoirs make great audiobooks. It does have a crude streak (like John Water's films), so it's not for the faint of heart. The basic theme of the book though when you get past the crudeness it's basically about how decent humanity is and how we connect with each other across barriers of race, class, sexuality, gender, and even party affiliation. The real ride that takes him the furthest is a 20 year old straight Republican town councilman from Myersville, MD. A quote from the acknowledgements section of the book, "More than anything I'd like to praise the drivers that picked me up. If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term 'flyover people,' I'll punch him in the mouth."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    Listened to John Waters read the audiobook which was a fantastic experience.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Selwa

    I first heard of Carsick when John Waters was on Real Time with Bill Maher, plugging his new book. Full disclosure: I've never seen any of his movies (in fact, I think I've only ever seen him on Real Time), but the idea of this older, eccentric man hitchhiking across the US and writing about it sounded fan-effing-tastic. And, while it wasn't fan-effing-tastic, it was fun. I am glad I read reviews before diving in ... it prepared me for the fact that the actual hitchhiking portion was only the I first heard of Carsick when John Waters was on Real Time with Bill Maher, plugging his new book. Full disclosure: I've never seen any of his movies (in fact, I think I've only ever seen him on Real Time), but the idea of this older, eccentric man hitchhiking across the US and writing about it sounded fan-effing-tastic. And, while it wasn't fan-effing-tastic, it was fun. I am glad I read reviews before diving in ... it prepared me for the fact that the actual hitchhiking portion was only the last third of the book (the first third being a novella of what he thought could be the best that could happen, and the middle third being the worst). Those were fun to read, so I won't complain (in fact, I texted bits and pieces to my best friend, and read paragraphs to my husband when he'd ask me what I was laughing at), but my point is that the reality didn't quite match my expectations. I was excited to reach the actual hitchhiking portion, and that was ... less than thrilling. It had its moments, and I'm kind of baffled by the Corvette Kid, but what people do with their free time is their own business! Oh, and I do wish there were pictures. I think that would have been a nice addition.

  22. 5 out of 5

    R.

    Usually don't find myself reading a book straight through in one evening - but this one had what it takes to keep me truckin' on through to the last page (and wanting more) - took breaks only to have a small microwave dinner, heat up some tea, watch a lightning-storm (complete with bicuspid-sized hail) and refill the cat's water dish. Waters hits all the comedic sweetspots you'd expect in his two novellas ("The Best that Could Happen" and "The Worst that Could Happen" - easily the funniest Usually don't find myself reading a book straight through in one evening - but this one had what it takes to keep me truckin' on through to the last page (and wanting more) - took breaks only to have a small microwave dinner, heat up some tea, watch a lightning-storm (complete with bicuspid-sized hail) and refill the cat's water dish. Waters hits all the comedic sweetspots you'd expect in his two novellas ("The Best that Could Happen" and "The Worst that Could Happen" - easily the funniest novellas I'll read all year) and reveals, with self-deprecating admiration (the self-defecating eliminations are in the novellas), a sweet appreciation for normal America, normal Americans in the final section ("The Real Thing") -- can see this as an epic road movie starring Waters, himself, and the Jackass crew (in prosthetics, in makeup, in drag, etc). Taking the book as a pre-novelization of a movie, Carsick has earned an immediate place alongside Nebraska or The Straight Story as a cinematic loveletter to the melancholic grotesquerie and good-hearted goofiness of the American midwest.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rand

    The contours of memoir and fiction continue to overlap. It is sad to see how Waters has allowed himself to become watered down in his old age, all for the sake of being bi-coastal. I pretty much stopped giving a shit about what John Waters had to say after hearing him defend the party line on 9/11. He's become the quintessential example of how the establishment co-ops the counterculture, all for the sake of commerce. This book would have been a lot more exciting with less obscure film allusions The contours of memoir and fiction continue to overlap. It is sad to see how Waters has allowed himself to become watered down in his old age, all for the sake of being bi-coastal. I pretty much stopped giving a shit about what John Waters had to say after hearing him defend the party line on 9/11. He's become the quintessential example of how the establishment co-ops the counterculture, all for the sake of commerce. This book would have been a lot more exciting with less obscure film allusions such as "X from movie Z in scene Y" an Odorama card. And poppers—if the book came with a package of poppers personally endorsed by John Waters, than I would have paid my hard-earned dollars for it, instead of checking it out of the library. Also, what the fuck is up with taking I-70 the whole way?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean Stevens

    I think John Waters would definitely appreciate that I was listening to this when I totaled my car (as if this book wasn't meta enough?) I don't believe it was his fault although my cumulative laughter could easily have been a contributing factor on some subconscious level. Furthermore, as destiny would have it I heard all these delightful chapters out of order due to a rebellious flashdrive which was kind of disorienting at first however the fusion of real and the imagined chapters made it seem I think John Waters would definitely appreciate that I was listening to this when I totaled my car (as if this book wasn't meta enough?) I don't believe it was his fault although my cumulative laughter could easily have been a contributing factor on some subconscious level. Furthermore, as destiny would have it I heard all these delightful chapters out of order due to a rebellious flashdrive which was kind of disorienting at first however the fusion of real and the imagined chapters made it seem even more like the lucid daydream of it's hilarious author run through a blender. Thank you gods of randomness. Who needs an editor when you have shuffle buttons?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    This was a fun read, but sort of disappointing for a John Waters book. The first two sections of fiction read more like roughly thrown together fan fic. Some of the material was even recycled from his stand up, interviews, and other material. The non fiction part was more fun, but was also a bit disappointing (especially when one driver contacts him via email and comes back to deliver a second long distance ride). It sort of felt like he was cheating a few times. Sure the road is tough and few This was a fun read, but sort of disappointing for a John Waters book. The first two sections of fiction read more like roughly thrown together fan fic. Some of the material was even recycled from his stand up, interviews, and other material. The non fiction part was more fun, but was also a bit disappointing (especially when one driver contacts him via email and comes back to deliver a second long distance ride). It sort of felt like he was cheating a few times. Sure the road is tough and few people stop these days, but it could have been better.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I suspect one must be a Waters fan to dig this book. I'm not, and I didn't. The fiction is dippy, the nonfiction ploddingly banal. I'm not sure why I finished it, other than the fact that it was the only print book in the car. Give it a miss, unless you are a true fan.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I gave up on this one. UGH. I would have expected more imagination from a movie director, but alas, it's all about sex and drugs and how famous am I. Too graphic and sad to be funny. I decided to cut my losses and jettisoned the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laurence

    Strange that the real account (Part 3) has very little about anything other than the mundane details of selecting on-ramps where to hitch, being bored waiting while running out of water, and whining to assistants over the phone. And the rest is worse.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Storey

    I'm a fan of John Waters, but I was not a fan of this book. I couldn't even recommend it to a friend with whom I share books. It is going into the "donate" pile.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    Shock filmmaker John Waters decides to hitchhike from his office in Baltimore to his home in Los Angeles, taking along his credit cards, ID, satellite tracking device, cell phone, and the security of constant check-ins from his agent. So, not exactly roughing it, then. But! Before he details the perils and joys of his trip, he regales the reader with fictitious, over-the-top, gloriously gonzo novellas imagining the Best That Could Happen and Worst That Could Happen, both fun house mirror images Shock filmmaker John Waters decides to hitchhike from his office in Baltimore to his home in Los Angeles, taking along his credit cards, ID, satellite tracking device, cell phone, and the security of constant check-ins from his agent. So, not exactly roughing it, then. But! Before he details the perils and joys of his trip, he regales the reader with fictitious, over-the-top, gloriously gonzo novellas imagining the Best That Could Happen and Worst That Could Happen, both fun house mirror images of each other, from the imagined soundtracks to the demented characters and freak locations Waters' depraved mind can think up. I would rate this book a high three stars or low four stars, settling on three simply because it isn't what I picked it up for. This sounds curmudgeonly, but as much as I burst out laughing at the sheer audacity of Waters' fictional trips, I wanted more of an in-depth realistic travel memoir. In the end, the trip really doesn't have any extremely high or low parts (remember the phone and credit cards?), and it really isn't the amazing feat Waters paints it as. The true life account is a fun read, and the people he meets are a snapshot of how the kindness of strangers can still be counted on. But it's just all right. It's nice, not enthralling. The Straight Story, not Mondo Trasho.

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