Pick Me Up

John Waters’s mad memoir-cum-travelogue is a must read for summer.

John Waters Carsick Book

In John Waters’s mad memoir-cum-travelogue Carsick (out in June from Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the pencil-mustached director traverses the country twice. First he embarks on a series of imaginary rides with junkies, vegans, and animal activists, which conclude in jail, suicide, or worse; then he actually hitchhikes from his house in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco. The make-believe journey is vintage Waters, proof that even at 68 he’s still pushing weirdness to the limit—but the real trip proves to be even more surprising. The self-dubbed hobo-homo, waving a sign that reads I am not a psycho, hops into the passenger seat alongside, among others, a preacher’s wife, the indie band Here We Go Magic, and a conservative town councilman who’s never heard of Waters. In an assumption-upending twist, the staunch Republican enjoys the hitchhiker’s company so much that he arranges to meet him again down the road. Awed by the generosity of strangers, Waters ends each ride by handing out a card that reads thanks for the lift. Backatcha, Prince of Puke.