Up Late with John Waters’s Carsick

John Waters is best know for his alternative films like Hairspray, Pecker, and A Dirty Shame (among so many others)I had no idea he also wrote books until I read about the book Carsick in a New Yorker review.  As a huge fan of John Waters, I immediately put it on my to-read list and jumped when I saw it at my local library.  I would say if you don’t know who John Waters is, imagine Oscar Wilde was alive today and made movies, and had no Victorian sensibilities to worry about.

This book is about John Waters and his hitchhiking trip across the US of A during 2012. He decided to hitch from his house in Baltimore to his house in San Francisco. What I loved about this book was that there were three parts: first, a novella consider what might happen if everything went perfectly; second, a novella exploring what might happen if everything went horribly wrong; finally, what actually happened.  Some people on Goodreads thought this was a terrible idea, but I have to say, I just loved it.  The imaginings Waters has about what might happen to him are hilarious, and there were some parts, like ending up in a demolition derby, that were bizarre. 

A warning: John Waters has no sense of squeamishness about sex, weirdness, or freakish situations.  (Imagine Diane Arbus writing a book instead of taking photos.) Waters is king of weird, and I love him for it.  What impressed me about this book, though, is the bravery of Waters, at 66, for doing a solo hitchhiking road trip. There were some funny situations where nobody recognizes him, and I think it is interesting to see a celebrity reflect on what it feels like to be invisible.  Waters is a great observer of human nature, and he is also a compassionate man who appreciates kind people.

This was such a fast read, and I had a hard time putting it down. Probably not safe for students to read, but what a fun read for me!

UPDATE: the book is also available as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio, read by Waters himself. They were kind enough to offer us this clip to post here.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary of pctela.org

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Up Late with John Waters’s Carsick

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