cover image Liarmouth


John Waters. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-18572-5

Filmmaker and author Waters (the memoir Mr. Know-It-All) makes his fiction debut with a hilariously sleazy story of a con artist in which the villains are good guys, the good guys are silly, and everybody gets down and dirty. The heroine, Marsha “Liarmouth” Sprinkle, knows she is “better than other people” (and “smarter, too”). She teams up with a guy named Daryl who lives for the deal they’ve struck: once a year, amid their airport baggage scams and false accident claims, he gets to sleep with her. But Liarmouth is out to swindle everyone; not only Daryl but her daughter, Poppy, leader of a band of misfit trampoline fanatics who literally bounce through life; and her mother, Adora, who performs cosmetic surgery on pets. Liarmouth also wants her ex-husband dead, while self-righteous Poppy and Adora want her killed. Waters miraculously sustains the wacky humor in just about every line (here’s a throwaway description of a punk rocker who aged poorly: “No mosh pit for this guy. He’s too fat to catch!”). Along the way, characters air their grievances over the indignities of airports and cheap hotel rooms and wryly observe the cheery indulgences of Provincetown, Mass., where a family of parents and children sport matching “I EAT ASS” sweatshirts. Raunchy and exhausting, it’s a must for fans of high camp. (May)