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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beaverhausen's Book Nook: John Waters' Carsick

I've been a John Waters fan since I first saw Pink Flamingos at its original run as a midnight movie at the Elgin Cinema in Chelsea. Female Trouble is one of my ten all-time favorite films (surely a list I'll need to compile at some time). Waters has become a celebrity, outside his movie director status, in his own right. Comic raconteur (his show at City Winery in NYC last June was wonderfully insane), artist/photographer, occasional tv host, actor and writer. I thought his last book of essays, Role Models, was as insightful as it was hilarious.

Why then, with his latest book, Carsick, did I feel unsatisfied as I read through the prologue? Why did it all seem a bit stale, mannered, self-consciously wacky and eccentric, and -- worse -- unfunny? I thought it had to be me! I had to be in some sort of a pre-disposed lousy mood because John Waters always makes me laugh. But, at the outset, Carsick came across like the literary equivalent of striking a pose; vogueing in prose. And it was making me booksick.

Carsick was in stores as of Tuesday, June 3rd. I got my copy at Barnes & Noble in the Citicorp Building, where Tina Louise also shops. She loves endlessly chatting with the cashiers and holding up the line. The store, oddly, had parked Carsick in the Travel (domestic) section. I thought John Waters would have appreciated that.

Once I thumbed my way through Waters' prologue, and he hits the road, detailing imaginary encounters with a variety of drivers under the titles "The Best That Could Happen" and "The Wost That Could Happen," the book -- like the hitchhiker himself  -- takes off and I often laughed out loud at his outlandish, vividly detailed scenarios. Now, this was classic John Waters! I most especially adored the suburban matron driving a trainer's car. Waters has to step on the breaks and ultimately steer from the passenger seat. And then it turns out the driving instructor is locked in the trunk and the woman is the student.

Waters' fiction of being on the road ultimately gives way to "The Real Thing" section, where the author simply has a safe, uneventful eight-day journey with ordinary people.

"My drivers were brave and open-minded, and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be." I was touched by Waters' closing sentiment. Such unexpected sweetness from the 68-year-old Pope of Trash. And it may be the most shocking thing about Carsick.
“My riders were brave and open-minded,” Waters writes, “and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be.” - See more at: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/carsick-john-waters-hitchhikes-across-america#sthash.h42QskuO.dpuf
“My riders were brave and open-minded,” Waters writes, “and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be.” - See more at: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/carsick-john-waters-hitchhikes-across-america#sthash.h42QskuO.dpuf
“My riders were brave and open-minded,” Waters writes, “and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be.” - See more at: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/carsick-john-waters-hitchhikes-across-america#sthash.h42QskuO.dpuf






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