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Carsick

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  3,963 ratings  ·  750 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
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Hardcover, 323 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2014)
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Alice I listened to it and loved it. He is so imaginative and also apparently a very kind, thoughtful man. I felt like I was with him on his journey, like a…moreI listened to it and loved it. He is so imaginative and also apparently a very kind, thoughtful man. I felt like I was with him on his journey, like a buddy. I have seen his movies for many years and expected him to be much stranger. He has a wild sense of humor, but he's a decent human being and so appreciative of other people's kindness to him.
As to why other people don't like this book? Water's sense of humor in the imaginary parts gets pretty wild. Some people don't like his movies, either. I've always loved his work because he goes where other people won't, and I've always thought he stuck up for the underdog.(less)
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Diane Librarian
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
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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 ...more
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 ba
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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
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 n ...more
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 ...more
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. H
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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, ...more
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 absurd—and often borderline pornographic—situations that f ...more
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 acr
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Jen
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.
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
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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 2
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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 th
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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 novel ...more
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 s
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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 p ...more
Brian
Carsick is a book about John Waters attempting to hitchhike steps away from his home in Baltimore to the front steps of his house in San Fransisco and it definitely delivers. The story is told in three parts or three scenario... The best that could happen, the worst that could happen and the real thing. The first two parts of the book are fiction and Waters weaves together fantastic stories that are funny, poignant, gross and thought provoking. Though initially I was more anxious to skim ahead t ...more
Aaron
This was definitely typical John Waters, which means you probably know whether you like it or not based on whether you like Water or not. He can be fun and humorous, though some people find him offensive. He is the person who put together the first Hairspray film as well as a number of other independent films with no shortage of adult themes.

In this particular book, Waters decides to hitchhike across America from his home in Baltimore, Maryland, to San Francisco, California. Before he dives into
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Jennifer
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
Kati Heng
I have a love/hate relationship with John Waters. Mostly love, though. I look forward to watching the next movie (I’ve only seen about five of his) with utter fascination, googling all the trivia online, getting so excited about what sick things may happen. Then I watch it and am like “why the fuck did I think I would be able to eat chips during this?” as images of assholes (not mean people, literal buttholes) implant themselves forever on my impressionable mind. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend hat ...more
Belinda
Oh John Waters..let me count the ways I love you...<3 I am a dyed in the wool John Waters fan--I won't say I love every one of his movies--I don't--but I love a lot of them and in loving them, I learned about the faboosh Divine and of course John himself. His interviews really got me--not that it's not obvious that he's creative or funny--but you just have no idea.
We share a lot of things--a complete adoration of kitsch, true crime history and a love of old fashioned things that does not mat
...more
Larraine
After hearing John Waters being interviewed about this book, of course I had to get it. Happily our local library had copies. This is, after all, Maryland, not far from Baltimore. The first two sections are fantasies. He almost had me believing them though. They are his "best and worse" rides - full of orgies featuring gay and hetero sex, not to mention lots of drugs and alcohol. I am reminded of Casablanca when Captain Renault accuses Rick of being a "rank sentimentalist." After two sections of ...more
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 ...more
Jason
Delightfully funny, irreverent, and vulgar, but alas not entirely my cup of tea. The book is set up in three parts: the first an imagined string of "bad rides" Waters takes while hitchhiking from his apartment in Baltimore to his other apartment in San Francisco. The second section is imagined "good" rides. Both sections are funny, but lagged and ultimately bored me. The final section is an essay on what actually happens on Waters' trip, and that was the best part. As someone who has done of a l ...more
Ethan Casey
Every American road trip is different; thus every American road trip book is, and should be, different from every other. The beauty of such books done well has much to do with the nature of the country itself: so enormous and diverse, and so (if we're honest) contingent and arbitrary in its history and geography, that any trip across or around it is bound to have as much to do with the personality of the road tripper, and the happenstances inherent in the act of traveling, as with any putative q ...more
Donald
This is a strange one.
John Waters pitches the idea of hitchhiking coast to coast to his publishers, and they love it.
At best, this is magazine article material.
The introduction basically covers my second sentence, then we get a fictional account of his idea of the 'best' journey, which involves actresses, porn stars, alien abduction and wild trucker orgies.
Next we get the 'journey from hell' involving child abduction, redneck homophobic cops and serial killer groupies.
It should be amazing, like
...more
Rick J
I got into John Waters far too recently, and I seem to be working through his career in reverse chronological order, reading his latest books and watching his mainstream films before most of the cult stuff. I wish I had been introduced to John Waters much earlier (what could have been if I got my parents to rent Pink Flamingos instead of Rocky Horror when I was in high school?), but reading "Carsick" without being familiar with his most recognizable work is interesting in its own way.

"Carsick" m
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Leftbanker
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
Marti
Unbeknownst to most people, the book is comprised of three parts. The first two "Novellas" are Waters' fantasy of the "best" and "worst" possible outcome to his proposed hitch-hike across America. I was initially disappointed because I usually prefer reality over fantasy. However, these were actually better than I expected them to be because they still contain Waters' witty allusions to real-life people and events. And the worst-case-scenario seems to be imaginary penance for actual "sins" the a ...more
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17366
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.
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“but my abortion politics are simple. If you can’t love your child, don’t have it, because it will grow up and kill me.” 5 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.” 4 likes
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