Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
Reviewed by Chris, Librarian at Bridgewater Library
John Waters, the King Of Bad Taste, decided one day that he would also be the King Of Possibly Bad Decisions and so he set off to hitchhike across the United States from his home in Baltimore, all the way through Interstate 70 into Utah, and then down to his other home in San Francisco. Who would he meet along the way? Would anyone recognize him? Would anyone care at all?
Before he committed to this project, Waters wrote two novellas detailing the absolutely best possible ride and the absolute worst one, and these each take up a third of the book. Each scenario grows more and more outlandish (and neither are for the squeamish, but please see above re: Waters, John, author). When the time finally comes to set out on the road, armed with a few days of clothing, a sign that says “END OF 70 WEST” on one side and “I’M NOT PSYCHO” on the other, and a pencil-thin mustache, Waters is picked up by a very interesting cast of characters. The rides range from an indie band travelling to their next tour date, several people who thought the director was a homeless man off his meds (and who tried to offer him money), and a Republican town councilman on his first ever adventure outside his tiny little village of 1,600. While the reality may not be as shocking as the fictional trips were, John Waters discovers that the people who pick him up are still incredibly interesting with their own special stories to tell.
I listened to this book. John Waters does his own narration, and it is totally worth the listen. The lurid fantasies and nightmarish scenarios are acted out lavishly and even flamboyantly, and Waters has a great voice for narration and a good sense of his own material. Even when reading the playlist at the end (the songs he mentioned in the stories), he reads them off like an old-time radio DJ, and his excitement was still infectious on this track 5 minutes before the end of the book. It would be an absorbing read in print, but the director adds a special touch to the material in his narration.