Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Lost at Sea" by Jon Ronson

Lost at Sea is a collection of Ronson's previously published (primarily in The Guardian) essays from the last decade. Though the essays are loosely categorized by vague themes, there's no explicit connection between the stories except that most are about sad or strange (and often both) individuals who walk the line between sane and crazy. They're interesting pieces on their own, but taken together, all at once, the essays almost seem repetitive, and I was left thinking, "Wow, Ronson flies around to a lot of places. Does The Guardian pay for that? It must."

But, like I said, individually, each story is certainly interesting, and I like Ronson's style of integrating his personal experiences and narrative into the essay's subject (as he did in The Psychopath Test). There are a good number of essays about famous court cases, including the British Who Wants to be a Millionaire? scandal and a British pop star's child-sex scandal. "Who Killed Richard Cullen?", a prophetic look into the 2007 economic meltdown (though written in 2005) was especially interesting, as I hadn't realized that England had experienced the same problems as the U.S.: banks targeting middle-income people, saddling them with credit card debt, etc. And I liked how Ronson explores interesting people--like a minister who assists individuals looking to commit suicide or a man with a course to convert agnostics--and lets us see both their crazy and their reason.

I think I'd prefer reading Ronson's essays as their originally appeared, but Lost at Sea is a good representation of Ronson's work.

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