Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America
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Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,781 ratings  ·  310 reviews
A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo

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 dir...more
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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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 a...more
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 ba...more
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...more
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...more
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,...more
Apr 10, 2014 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
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.
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. H...more
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 n...more
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 p...more
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 2...more
I remember hearing that John Waters was hitchhiking across the county and I was interested to see how his trip turned out. I was not very interested in the sections where Waters imagined various good and bad ride scenarios but fans of his work may appreciate those and it was probably better to add those rather than drag out the story of his cross-country trip. The fascinating part of the book is really just Waters himself, a guy who does and says crazy things but is also neurotic, kind and fasti...more
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 mascar...more
Thomas Pluck
I love John Waters. This book is hilarious, gross, sentimental, cute, and revolting all at the same time. I imagine the first hundred pages of fantasy turned a lot of people off, but I thought they were hilarious, like watching the movie he'd make with an unlimited budget.
It is a testament to the narrative powers of Waters how he is able to take the incredibly mundane aspects of life in America and bring them to life for the reader, like how he jerked off the driver as he rode shotgun in a demolition derby in rural Indiana.

I hitchhiked across the USA when I was 21 after returning from a year-long overseas study program in Peru in which I had devoured Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I had an incredibly time but my trip was nothing like Water’s luxury cruise. I had no...more
I've always admired John Waters for being who he is without apology despite the gross things that happen in his films. I think I'd love to go have a couple of martinis with him. If I'd been driving across America on the route he was on, I would have picked him up and probably would have laughed my ass off with him. The two fabricated sections of the book read much like his films--gross, outrageous people (some well known from the screen...alas, Edith Massey!). I wanted to get through those ficti...more
Adam Dunn
I liked it, didn't love it.
There's a wide variety of reviews, both good and bad, and I kind of agree with both.
On the bad side I agree, the first 55% of the book is filler. The book starts off with a too brief set-up to the journey, then details what could happen in sections marked BAD and GOOD. I read the first few and though they were entertaining enough, it's just not what I signed up for. I wanted to read the true accounts. So I kept flipping, and flipping, and flipping. This filler was rea...more
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 acr...more
not my favorite book by mr waters, who is one of my favorite american film-makers.

the book is based on waters' hitch-hiking adventures across america a few years back, and is told in three parts, the first two sections are fiction: his dream trip hitching across the country, his nightmare trip, and then, finally, a non-fiction account of the journey. it's a nice cross section of waters' views on a variety of things we have come to associate with him: drugs, sex, perversions, and outlaw identiti...more
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 f...more
In fairness to John Waters, I found it impossible to finish this book, so it's probably not fair of 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 wa...more
John Waters is one of my favorite people on the planet. I love how much he has accomplished and the attitude and gusto he has maintained as he pursues everything he does. When it comes to his films, I honestly only enjoy a handful of them, but I certainly have always seen how important he is to film history. When I heard he had written a book about a hitchhiking trip across the country, I knew I wanted to read it.

As a whole, this is a fun read. Just like his filmography, though, there is some I...more
Ron Davidson
First of all, if you are not into crude sexual references, scatology, and morbid humor, you should probably skip the first two sections of the book -- but this is John Waters, so what the hell did you expect?!?

This is a fun book, as most John Waters books are. His innate love of life and seemingly genuine warmth and interest in humanity comes through strongly -- but mainly in the final, non-fiction, section of the book. Carsick is divided into three parts, two fictional and one of real experienc...more
Lisa McColgan
John Waters is the Pope of Trash and there are very few people in my immediate circle of friends who would not kiss his ring. The director decides to embark on a hitchhiking excursion across the country, and chronicle his experiences.

The first 2 sections of the book are purely fantasy on his part – what a perfect series of rides would look like, and the worst case scenarios – and they are every bit what you’d expect from John Waters: frenetic, filthy vignettes populated by imaginary societal rej...more
"Truckers are everywhere, and yes, a few of them are incredibly cute, but in real, unporn life most of them are, well, ugly. Just like film directors, I guess."

John Waters couldn't get the funding to make the movie he wanted to make. So he decided to hitchhike from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco and then write a book about it. Makes sense to me.

The first two-thirds of this book is fiction -- he imagines first the best possible outcome to the trip (sample musing: "Before I can...more
This is definitely not the book for every reader--and not family listening. But if you appreciate John Waters, you'll want to have a look. Waters contracted with his publisher to hitchhike from Baltimore to San Francisco and write up his adventures. Before he starts he imagines the adventure of his dreams, followed by the hitchhiking trip of his worst nightmares. Neither is frankly as interesting as the actual trip, which he recounts with campy wit. He performs the book in his inimitable irresis...more
Pam Glazier
John Waters brought his idyllic inner monologue of filth into my world with this book. It was like reading the travel memoire of a pleasant suburban grandmother with the mind of 70s porn star/cult trash film enthusiast. The book is divided into three sections--daydreams of Waters' idea of the best possible road trip, nightmares of the worst, and then a recounting of what actually happened. If you love the glamour of trashy kitsch and have a stomach for the charming vulgarity that Waters is famou...more
Keith Jones
The first two parts of the book with the made-up rides were entertaining, but the final part describing the actual hitchhiking trip was engrossing. He couldn’t get rides, which was not really a big surprise, but reading about him talking and texting his assistants back in Baltimore as they try to help him figure out what to do next and possibly find better hitchhiking spots was downright riveting.
Steve Isaak
Carsick is hilarious, horrifying, raunchy, pop culture savvy, smart and everything you would expect from a John Waters book. If you're a fan of Waters, this is worth owning. If you're not, check this out from the library or buy a used copy instead of purchasing it at its full price.

(This review originally appeared on the Reading & Writing By Pub Light site.)
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.
Though the opening 2/3 were amusing, I think we were all here for the final third. I think this was more interesting to me than to others because he was stuck SO LONG in St. Clairsville on an exit I know soooooo well. And he ate lunch in Zanesville.

At any rate, the first 2/3 were funny, but just different. And also.....super dirty.
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John Samuel Waters, Jr. is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, personality, visual artist and art collector, who rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films: Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. He is recognizable by his pencil-thin moustache.
More about John Waters...
Role Models Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste Trash Trio: Three Screenplays Art: A Sex Book

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“I sneak a look over and consider a blow job, but even I know giving head in the middle of a demolition derby is risky,” 2 likes
“I’d like to praise the drivers who picked me up. If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term flyover 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.” 1 likes
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