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Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  2,545 ratings  ·  472 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
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
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
Petra X
Dec 21, 2014 Petra X is currently reading it
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, hea ...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
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This was a 2.5 book for me. I felt pretty duped by this one and almost quit reading it in the first 50 pages. Be warned that two-thirds of the book is fiction, a pair of novellas in which Waters imagines the best and worst possible scenarios for his hitchhiking expedition from Baltimore to San Francisco. The final third of the book is Waters' actual trip, during which his assistants back in Baltimore are monitoring his every move and making sure he never really gets stranded anywhere. He meets s ...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
Dec 04, 2014 Sarah marked it as to-read
Reading this and Walden at the same time is making a little thunderstorm in my brain.

Update: I'm abandoning this for awhile. It's lingering on my "currently reading" shelf and I really haven't picked it up in awhile. I'd like to revisit it again.
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
"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
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
I love John Waters, but I was a little disappointed by this book. It's divided into three sections, the first two fictional and the last one the actual account of Waters' hitchhiking venture. He takes the first two sections to imagine the best and worst case scenarios for his cross-country trip, and while some of the scenarios are amusing, the best part by far are all the recommendations he sneaks in through his imagined conversations. The actual hitchhiking, in the third section of the book, is ...more
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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.” 2 likes
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