Monday, August 4, 2014

"Carsick" by John Waters (2014)

The classic film “Sullivan’s Travels” must have been on director John Waters mind when he decided to hitch hike across the country at the age of 63 in 2010. He is, after all, a filmmaker. And that film could almost be the blueprint for the genesis of this seemingly strange idea on the part of the author. But the similarities end with the concept as Mr. Waters takes us on a “long, strange trip” indeed.

Starting out from his home on Charles Street in Baltimore County he elects to head to San Francisco via Route 70, which begins at the Baltimore Beltway, Exit 17. His first ride is almost too good to be true. A pot dealer in a non-descript vehicle picks him up and drops him in West Virginia; but not before taking him home for lunch and lending him $5 million dollars in cash for his next film, which the author has been unable to getting financing for. And with a beginning like that, you know the rest of the book is going to be just great.

But wait; this IS a John Watters book. So you may have to look twice. I didn’t read the short blurb on the inside book jacket. Maybe that was smart. I would have cheated myself out of a hilarious experience. The book is divided into 2 portions; the first being a “novella” of the author’s imaginative cross country journey; and I hope he makes a film of it. The second part is what really happened on the journey. As I said, this IS a John Waters book, so normal rules do not apply.

If you are homophobic; or just uneasy with the topic of gay sex; then skip this book. Mr. Waters inhabits a slightly different reality than you and I, so his fantasies all reflect that alternate lifestyle. I found the whole book; fiction and non-fiction, to be just like one of his movies. It’s a world inhabited by the most unusual characters; people that simply cannot be. And then you hit the non-fiction part.

Guess what? The real world can be just as surprising; and rewarding; as the alternate one; or even the fictional version. That may have been his point. And that’s all I’m going to say about this wonderfully irreverent book which plays fast and loose with an alternate reality, and then draws an accurate picture the real one.

Let’s just say that in writing this book Mr. Waters may have learned something about the world outside of Baltimore and the lifestyle he has led for so many years; just as the reader will see things a bit differently after reading the true adventures of a cross country journey by thumb in the early 21st century.

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