Awkward scrutineer of all things absurd, Jon Ronson, returns with a collection of short pieces of investigative journalism both weird and wonderful. From a travel piece where he takes an Aston Martin for a spin around France whilst copying Bond’s journey from Casino Royale to the letter (or at least, as closely as he can manage), to the strange case of the foiled killing spree in a small US town called Christmas, where it’s Christmas everyday of the year.
As always, Ronson is quick to subtly skewer pomposity and ludicrousness with his inimitable brand of incredulity, but between the laughs there’s also a lot to be learned about the strangeness of the peoples of the world, whether it’s their mad beliefs, their strange rituals, or their winsome dedication.
There’s something for everyone within these pages, whether its UFO hunting with Robbie Williams, exploring the cult-like fandom of Insane Clown Posse and the band’s sudden conversion to evangelical Christianity, or the real-life superheroes of the US. Ronson takes us down the rabbit hole and into the strange fringes of society where anything is possible.
It’s an eclectic collection of entertaining vignettes, like the outtakes from a movie, the scenes that just didn’t fit the rest of the film. This book, unlike Ronson’s others, isn’t an immersive journey into one fringe world, but a quick dip into many. For that reason, it lacks the impact of his other works such as The Psychopath Test or Them: Adventures With Extremists, but it nonetheless has powerful moments as well as laugh-out-loud passages.
All in all, this book is exactly what one would expect from a collection of short Jon Ronson investigations: thoroughly-researched odysseys through a wild range of different peoples, topics and ideas. Most of them stark-raving bonkers.