Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson

New age zealots, the Alaskan townspeople who write Santa's return letters, and a horrifyingly large number of people who go missing from cruise ships - these are just a few of the interesting people you'll learn about in this book of stand-alone essays by British reporter Jon Ronson.

Ronson is a freelance journalist who gets to pursue crazy stories and fantastical personalities. He made a bit of money when a previous book, The Men Who Stare At Goats, was made into a movie starring George Clooney, so in these tales he travels the world and hunts down bizarre and unbelievable characters. Most of this volume's articles were previously published in The Guardian.

Many of the stories are funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Several of the people he meets would incite anger - if they weren't ultimately such sad, pathetic souls at the core of it: he takes a cruise with celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne, he hangs out backstage with the Insane Clown Posse, he gets profiled by the consumer target marketing company Experian, and he meets a guy who split atoms in his kitchen.

It's a fun book, but Ronson avoids drawing any real conclusions - you're left to ponder your own thoughts on the matter, in the end.

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