Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance by author and director John Waters
Anyone who knows me knows about my deep love for John Waters. It started with watching Pink Flamingos back in high school and has blossomed into me owning all his movies and books. I even have a John Waters Pop and a Divine in her iconic red dress ugly Christmas sweater.
So I picked up Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance because it’s John Waters. I need no other information about it. This is actually the first fiction book I’ve read from him. He typically writes memoirs and comedy nonfiction such as Mr. Know It All.
He has all but finished directing and writing movies, which is a shame. He has said there’s really nothing left that he can do with shock cinema, the torch has been passed. First it was to the boys from Jackass but now it’s just anyone with a camera who can put their filthiest selves forward. And boy do they!
In Liarmouth, Waters makes use of being a non visual medium by including gags that would be difficult and very expensive to produce on screen as well as certainly earn him another NC-17 rating. Some of these include a group of ever bouncing weirdos and contortionists who just can’t stand still and a sentient talking penis.
The novel focuses on Marsha Sprinkles, a liar, thief, and conwoman who is manipulative and cruel to everyone around her. She also appears to be sex repulsed and only uses her body to tease men into obeying her but never allows them to touch.
Her partner, Daryl, was promised access to her lady parts if he worked for her for a year without pay. That year is up and Marsha intends to leave him high and dry but Daryl is not easily deterred. The rest of the book becomes A Mad Mad Mad Mad World but with the treasure being Marsha’s vagina instead of cash.
The bulk of the book is a wacky chase full of physical gags and slapstick comedy. Then Marsha meets her soulmate on a plane and we get to the “feel bad romance” part of the story. She is compelled to tell the truth to this man and through her sudden outbursts we discover how she got to this point and why she is now willing to open her legs for this man who was literally raised by dogs.
Liarmouth is entertaining and very different from your average read. It is incredibly difficult to walk the tight rope of poor taste. Crass humor can be wildly funny or grossly offensive. There is not much in between. Waters has built his career on mastering the funny side and he does so by always going balls out. There can be no reigns on a shock value book, everything has to be over the top and far beyond what we would see in reality or what anyone would consider good taste.
I’ve read some real stinkers that completely fail to understand the difference between what’s funny and what’s just plain wrong. Liarmouth is fully original and although there are some truly disgusting parts I never felt like it crossed the line into cringey bathroom humor. My only complaint is that as a personal preference it is much easier to swallow this style in a movie with an hour and a half run time than a 300 page book.
3/5 mouths 👄👄👄
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