cover image Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder

Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder

John Waters. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-21496-8

In this delightful hybrid memoir/advice book, film director Waters shares highlights from his 40-year career and musings on a random assortment of subjects, including music, architecture, and the best vacation spots. Waters, a self-described “garbage guru,” begins by providing a wealth of tips for aspiring filmmakers and other artists, such as “Believe your own grandiosity and go wrong to make your career go right.” He also dishes on some of his most memorable acting hires, including Serial Mom’s Kathleen Turner, who taught him to “pay attention to your stars as if your life depended on it,” and Cry-Baby’s Joey Heatherton, who, while auditioning, “spoke in tongues convincingly as the script called, but seemed unable to stop.” The book’s second half gives Waters more freedom to riff, with endlessly entertaining results, whether he is ruminating on his favorite music (including 1960s “car-accident teen novelty records”) or imagining opening a restaurant that serves kittens. In a punctuationless ode to Andy Warhol styled after Warhol’s “novel” A, Waters asserts provocatively that, as a filmmaker, “Andy was more important than Thomas Alva Edison and D.W. Griffith.” Though not quite as surreal, Waters’s musings are as funny and eccentric as his films; longtime fans will be delighted with the treasure trove of insights into his brilliant oeuvre. (May)