Jon Ronson is fascinated by madness, extraordinary behaviour and the human mind. He has spent his life investigating crazy events, following fascinating people and unearthing unusual stories. Collected here from various sources (including the Guardian and GQ America) are the best of his adventures. Always intrigued by our ability to believe the unbelievable, Jon meets the man preparing to welcome the aliens to earth, the woman trying to build a fully-conscious robotic replica of the love of her life and the Deal or No Deal contestants with a fool proof system to beat the Banker. Jon realizes that it’s possible for our madness to be a force for good when he meets America’s real-life superheroes or a force for evil when he meets the Reverend ‘Death’ George Exoo, who has dubiously assisted in more than a hundred mercy killings.
He goes to a UFO convention in the Nevada desert with Robbie Williams, asks Insane Clown Posse (who are possibly America’s nastiest rappers) whether it’s true they’ve actually been evangelical Christians all along and rummages through the extensive archives of Stanley Kubrick. Frequently hilarious, sometimes disturbing, always entertaining, these compelling encounters with people on the edge of madness will have you wondering just what we’re capable of.
©2012 Jon Ronson (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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My dad used to tell me, "The truth is stranger than fiction, Ange. You couldn't make this stuff up!"
My dad would love Jon Ronson.
Ronson is known for ferreting out strange people with strange beliefs or behaviors and exposing them to the world. He does it again in "Lost at Sea," a wonderful collection of tales about his odd encounters. Ronson makes himself a central character in all of his stories. He plays the good-natured skeptic who kind of wants to believe - the very role we imagine for ourselves in Ronson's place. His openness helps us empathize with his bizarre cast of characters. In the end, we, like Ronson, are a little bit better for having learned what they have to teach.
Perhaps the best part of this book is that Ronson himself narrates, and no one could do it better. Each emotion is clearly expressed through his lilting accent, which is at times quite hilarious. I've said it in previous reviews and I will say it again, you will want to talk like Jon Ronson for days after listening to his work because everything sounds funnier when you say it like Jon Ronson.
If you love the strange and bizarre, you will love this book. If you are a Ronson fan, you will not be disappointed by this latest installment of the strange and weird.
My top three picks:
1) Doesn't everyone have a solar? (Ronson interviews high functioning robots.)
2) Who killed Richard Cullen? (Ronson invents alteregos with various personality traits to see who is most likely to be solicited by ads for credit cards and bank loans.)
3) Is she for real? (Ronson signs up for a cruise featuring "grumpy" psychic Sylvian Brown.)
A quite run-of-the-mill and mostly forgettable book for me. It’s a collection of articles from Jon Ronson, who may or may not be famous outside the U.S. -- “Jon meets the man preparing to welcome the aliens to earth, the woman trying to build a fully-conscious robotic replica of the love of her life and the ‘Deal or No Deal’ contestants with a foolproof system to beat the Banker.” Though many reviewers laud his storytelling ability, I mostly found myself just on the short side of interested.
You'll recognize Ronson's narration from This American Life or other such broadcasts. He has a voice and style, like David Sedaris, that is perfect for his writing. A collection of subjects that he investigated/interviewed/tried to sort out - few people can find the subject matter and true life characters that Ronson looks at and narrate it with dead pan sincerity.
This book is divided into shorts that give a quick preview of Ronson's general writing style and a glance at his charming and sometimes mischievous personality.
His voice adds a level of naivety and playfulness to the stories which I have always appreciated and feel his voice helps conveyhis intent when in dialogue with some of the characters he encounters. I have listened to "men who stare at goats" which was narrated by someone else, and I wasn't as glued to the listening experience. Ronson does an amazing job.
His descriptions of the psuedo-psychic Sylvia Brown who I have always DESPISED! I was so thrilled to hear his interpretation of her. I am a visual person and I find his descriptions to be very realistic and hilarious like distorted caricatures that some how capture the true essence of a person's soul.
I hope that he continues to supply us with more books because I am running out of ronson books to read.
Yes, there is a diverse amount of information and it would be enjoyable to listen to again.
This is a series of articles written over the last ten years. He covers a wide range of topics. His observational style is engaging and the topics are interesting.
Very interesting stories, and very well told. Jon puts an interesting (twist? conclusion?) on his stories. I highly recommend it.
If you love "This American Life", you'll be disappointed with this book. It lacks the narrative flow and pacing of TAL. Each chapter starts in the middle and ends without concluding. It's incredibly unsatisfying. There is no announcing of the start of a new chapter and no pause, so it's incredibly disorienting when he starts talking about something completely different. You take a minute to realize he's moved on, you have no time to process the last chapter and you're left hanging on each story. There are interesting tidbits in there, but not as many as you'd like, and nothing cohesive.
Another major strike against the book is that it's gonzo journalism, meaning the author is the main character in each story, and I find him really unlikable.
I normally listen to audiobooks at 1.25X normal speed, but this one I had to speed up more, the narrator/author is too slow.
Organically grown in Los Angeles, Erin spends his time wielding technology, acquiring all the bitcoins and falling in love with everything
Jon Ronson is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His wry self deprecating wit along with his penchant for the bizarre make for curious and interesting reads. I especially like this audio book since he's also got a strange yet curiously pleasing voice.
The ability of Mr. Jon Ronson to respect the characters with whom he interacts. HIs respect for the "Oddballs" of the world is worthy of praise. He is a true "participate observer" and a balanced translator of the humans who he encounters.
I enjoyed his authentic presentation and enthusiasm for his topic.
Hard to pick they are all good stories. I think the "Lost at Sea" is very well done.
Thank you Jon Ronson, whose name seems like a dyslexic joke I very much enjoyed your work. The NLP story is what Ronson was told but it omits Virginia Satir, the primary teacher for Bandler and Grinder.
"Amazing as always."
Love Jon's books. Fascinating from the first story to the last and totally entertaining. This has been my favourite so far.
"Jon ronson is ace"
This is funny, intriguing and astonishing. Jon's narrative style is very enjoyable. I'm going to search out his other work now
Between each short story, I struggle to pick a favourite, each was interesting and some emotional. highly recommended.
"A really informative and entertaining listen"
Top 20, definitely
Ronson's delivery is hilarious and his writing is very engaging
His slightly whiny tone is very idiosyncratic and makes perfect sense with his writing style
I loved his James Bond Journey recreation, and exploration of Kubrick's boxes
"A collection of suprising real life stories"
This is quite a big collection of short stories/articles that Jon Ronson wrote over the years. His style of journalism is very distinct and it is not for every one, he makes himself part of the story. But I quite enjoyed that. I always like listening to a book read by the author because they know how they intended it to be read and for these stories that was definilty the case. I do have to say that I did expect more 'fun' strange stories but there were a couple of truly depressing ones. One of them I actually did not listen to because it is a subject which is bit tough for me personally. But overall I really enjoyed this book.
I did look for other material by Jon Ronson and found that he repeats himself in his books, so if you already own some of his books, make sure you realise there might be some overlap!
"Classic Ronson, enthralling as ever."
Yes, some more than others. Some of the chapters were more interesting to me than others.
I enjoyed the chapters about Bond, the North Pole and the Alpha Course. I would return to these again.
Hard to say really, as he is the main character throughout, it is his thoughts and opinions and interviews. He is incredibly likeable.
I could have done had I the time!
Well worth reading/listening, also check out his book the Psychopath Test. That was brilliant.
The pleasure of reading Jon Ronson's books is surpassed by listening to his narration of them.
"Bizarre, Fascinating & uplifting in equal measure"
I have a been a on and off again fan of Jon Ronson's over the years but this is the first of his audio book versions I'd bought. Totally 'unputdownable' if that word works in an audio context.
The series of oddball people and situations that Jon becomes involved in (and sometimes creates) are interesting and you leave each scenario feeling intellectually challenged but wanting more. Highlights for me include Robbie Williams and Jon at a UFO convention, the odd 'friendship' with Jonathan King
and the archiving of Stanley Kubrick's boxes the culmination of which left me literally in tears.
If you want to experience the range of human 'uniqueness' I heartily recommend this book and Jon's understated reading of his own work adds to the experience (rather than as some author read pieces can, detract).
The measure of a good audiobook for me is how it stands up on a re-listen and this one I think will be added to my re-listen list quite quickly.
"a real pleasure"
Listening to and audio written and read by the same person works so well in this context. Jon Ronson has a certain style to his writing and I feel this is enhanced by listening to him.
I love these short stories, they are a perfect length. By the time Jon wraps up one story you are ready to hear the next. Each story is as quirky and interesting as the last.
Consistently excellent, I would (and do) recommend anything by Jon Ronson. This is fascinating, insightful, funny and chilling. A 5 star listen.
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