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05-23-15: John Waters Gets 'Carsick'

Going His Way

From the first sentence on, John Waters shares his excitement as well as the pitch for 'Carsick.' You know it well before reading this review. At the age of 66, John Waters decided he would hitchhike from his doorstep in Baltimore to his doorstep in San Francisco, and share his adventures with readers. That alone is reason enopugh to makie this book worth reading.

There's more than a bit of non-fiction. Before he tells us what really happened on his journey, Waters offers us two fictional versions; a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario. Some readers may have trouble distinguishing between the two, though both are markedly different from reality. What remains the same is Waters' lust or life, his joyful celebration of everything that is human. This is a fun, funny book that offers a potent, often-poignant glimpse of America. It's quite irreverent but never irrelevant.

Waters is known for his over-the-top work, and he certainly lives up to his reputation in 'Carsick,' particularly in the first two sections, where his imagination runs free. Given all the wild content, it's easy to miss his superbly skilled prose. Waters knows how to turn a sentence and how to expertly layer image and action to take readers to the bizarre corners of his inner mind. Portions of the book border on prose poetry as you might hope to find on the bathroom walls for a surreal funhouse.

All this wordplay and extreme exploration is very funny, but Waters also excels at storytelling and plot. He can craft a vivid character, and in a few short pages tell a whole story that feels real, or at least surreal. In the non-fiction section, things are considerably calmer, but the absence of Waters' imaginative powers is compensated for by his charm. He clearly charms his rides and everyone charms the reader. Waters seems to like everyone he meets, imagined or real, or at least he's able to sympathize with them. We like Waters. We like his rides, real and imagined. It's a grand time.

'Carsick' is so much so simply itself that it defies all genres and all attempts to contain it. Waters nails contagious fun. He'll make you want to hitchhike. You could only hope that it would be Waters himself to give you that ride. In this book he manages to do so.



New to the Agony Column

05-23-15: Commentary : John Waters Gets 'Carsick' : Going His Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with John Waters : "..its influence to be as hegemonic as it was..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 205: John Waters : Carsick

05-09-15: Commentary : Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD and 'Shrinks' : A Most Fashionable Take on the Human Mind

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : "..its influence to be as hegemonic as it was..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 204: Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

04-29-15: Commentary : Barney Frank is 'Frank' : Interpersonally Ours

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Barney Frank : "...while you're trying to change it, don't ignore it..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 203: Barney Frank : Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage

04-21-15: Commentary : Kazuo Ishiguro Unearths 'The Buried Giant' : The Mist of Myth and Memory

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro : ".... by the time I was writing this novel, the lines between what was fantasy and what was real had blurred for me..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 202: Kazuo Ishiguro : The Buried Giant

04-17-15: Commentary : Erik Larson Follows a 'Dead Wake' : Countdown to Destiny

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Erik Larson : "...said to have been found in the arms of a dead German sailor..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

04-15-15: Commentary : Peter Bell Reflects 'A Certain Slant of Light' : Strange Stories of Modern Scholars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Peter Bell : "...I looked up some of the old books..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 200: Peter Bell : Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light

03-14-15: Commentary : Marc Goodman Foresees 'Future Crimes' : Exponential Potential

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Marc Goodman : "...every physical object around us is being transformed, one way or another, into an information technology..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 199: Marc Goodman : Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

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