Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance By John Waters, 256 pgs.

Sep 22, 2022

Marsha Sprinkle’s hatred knows no boundaries. The woman hates her own daughter, for Christ’s sake, simply for being born of Marsha’s body. She hates her mother. She hates her father. Marsha’s life of petty crime has afforded her a somewhat lavish lifestyle from which she can look down and spit upon the unwashed masses, and her viciously antisocial behavior has become her sole source of joy. When Marsha and her endlessly aroused assistant Daryl get busted swiping luggage at BWI, they split up and go on the lam, leaving all their stolen assets behind. They are forced to fend for themselves in the real world, and it’s anything but pretty.

You may know author John Waters as the man responsible for such unseemly cinematic wonders as Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, and Polyester (more famously, Serial Mom, Hairspray, and Cry Baby). Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance is Waters’s first novel, and it’s the same sort of vulgar beast: unpaid sexual debts, a trampoline team out for blood, trans-species animals, talking penises, rimming festivals, tickle fetishes, and carjacking are all part of the sadistic story, and it gets worse from there. Any promise of a happy ending is delightfully defecated upon and wiped away.

Waters always catches me off guard in the best possible way. While the author/filmmaker never fails to fudge things up with filth and madness of all flavors, he seems to shake the same stinky finger at the squares, the mean old men, the self-righteous moral superiors whose judgment and condemnation this book (as well as his films) seems designated to summon. Reading Liarmouth, I can almost hear the evil laugh of revenge as I flip the pages.

I saw Polyester when I was probably too young and was left shocked and disturbed. Later I grew to know and love Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, and the rest of the John Waters catalog. Like acid, these movies were a staple of my formative years. In fact, the “Kill Everyone Now!’ speech/manifesto from Pink Flamingos (watch it!) is one of my favorite film moments of all time. Reading Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance and seeing the same mind at work in print is a joy—highly recommended for any fan. It’s no Desperate Living, but it is an exhilaratingly trashy and hilariously offensive journey to the heart of a twisted mind. RIP Harris Glenn Milstead. –Buddha (FSG)

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