Book Review: ‘Carsick’ by John Waters

Written by Allison Lips


Carsick, a book about hitchhiking across the United States, is made up of three novellas: the good, the bad, and the real. When reading the Carsick, one must take into account that it was written by America’s foremost purveyor of filth, John Waters, who is best known for writing and directing the original Hairspray movie.

The first thing that becomes clear is that Waters’ idea of good is different from everyone else’s. Who else describe being anally probed by aliens as a good thing? Then again, Waters’ has a habit of suggesting he likes to have nearly anonymous sex with strangers and graphically describing erections, but you wouldn’t expect less from the man who gave the world Pink Flamingos, a movie most definitely not for the faint of heart.


Most people would find Waters’ good trip disturbing, yet he somehow manages to make his bad trip downright horrifying. The scenes described wouldn’t be out of place in one of his movies, especially his regrettable infected tattoo. He’s also the type of person who would take your repulsiveness at his vileness as a compliment, which is why he isn’t for everyone.

The book has an interesting concept that is well executed. Waters could have easily decided to go back and forth between possible scenarios, but he wisely chose keep his imaginary experiences separate from what actually happened.

Despite having some sick fantasies and hanging around with unsavory-types, Waters’ wants to believe people are good. Now that he has successfully completed the trip from Baltimore to San Francisco without ending up dead, Waters’ can confirm that, overall, people are hardworking and decent. It’s him you probably want to stay away from or drive halfway across the country to meet him. It’s your choice. He’s really not scary and can turn on the normal when necessary.

You can clearly imagine his experiences, both real and imagined. Even if you object to the content Waters has a way with words. If he didn’t, the content wouldn’t be as objectionable and would result in a much less interesting book. As usual, The Pope of Trash does his job well.

Carsick is also available as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio, narrated by Waters himself.

Anglophile, Rockabilly, Pompadour lover, TV and Music Critic

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