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Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson
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Lost at Sea (edition 2012)

by Jon Ronson

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261None43,584 (4.08)22
Member:msf59
Title:Lost at Sea
Authors:Jon Ronson
Info:Picador (2012), Edition: Open market ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:short stories, ER, NF

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Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson

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I read this in anticipation of a discussion on Houdini's Revenge but I'm too far behind for that to happen.

Read this book. It is utterly fascinating. That's all I have times these days to say, but take my word - this book is deeply interesting.( ( )
  oddbooks | Dec 28, 2013 |
A collection of articles by Jon Ronson, in which he interviews the members of Insane Clown Posse, goes through Stanley Kubrick's old boxes, attends a UFO conference with a British pop star, visits a town where it's always Christmas and a group of teenagers were arrested for planning a mass shooting, discusses the surprising number of people who disappear from cruise ships each year, investigates a small religious sect whose members all volunteer to donate kidneys to strangers, and generally pokes his nose into lots and lots of weird and fascinating corners of modern life.

Some of this stuff is amusingly quirky. Some of it is really quite disturbing. In a surprising number of cases, those two things blur together in strange and interesting ways. Whatever the case, Ronson presents it all to us with a sort of quiet, low-key bemusement that somehow makes it all the more compelling. ( )
  bragan | Oct 10, 2013 |
Good

I listened to this, narrated by the author. This is a collection of Ronson’s articles on many diverse subjects from the boxes of Stanley Kubrick to investigations into a suicide. Ronson explores the weird side of life most often, being fascinated by extremes of human behaviour. He spends time with cults and psychics, speaks to euthanasia advocates, follows the trial of Jonathan King, investigates the rise of real superheroes (the film super is not so far off the mark! Check this out http://www.reallifesuperheroes.com/) and does so with a wry sense of humour and a keen eye for the absurd. If you’re a fan of his longer works or of his newspaper or TV work then you’ll enjoy this collection. The only issue is that although there is some commonality due to the author’s interests he does cast his net wide and the book does feel a bit eclectic, not an issue for me as I dipped in occasionally on bus journeys and walks.

Overall – An interesting but eclectic collection of short articles. ( )
  psutto | Jul 30, 2013 |
Interesting, often compelling, sometimes profound, and occasionally irrelevant. I'm on the fence about the star rating, I liked it about 3.5 but not enough to round up to a 4 so consider this rating a very strong 3.

This is my first experience with anything Jon Ronson has written (although I've seen the movie based on his book The Men Who Stare at Goats). I found him to be very adept at getting into a subject, participating (as a journalist) in the story without overwhelming it.

Lost at Sea is a collection of essays, some written so recently they seem almost presciently timely while others were obviously from some years ago and, as a result, seem quite dated and don't have anywhere near the impact they must have had originally. The book is divided into five parts which consist of a mix of essays that fall (in my opinion) into a handful of categories ranging from compelling and thought provoking to human interest stories that aren't all that interesting (what basically amounts to filler).

Among the more compelling stories were ones that touched on one or more of the following subjects -- artificial intelligence, Indigo children, a game show cheater, good Samaritan organ donors, religious orders/cults, the seamier side of assisted suicide, an encounter with famous psychic Sylvia Browne, the possible homophobic discrepancies in prosecuting pedophiles, income disparity in the U.S., and the way in which cruise lines fail to cooperate when those on board disappear.

To be clear, these subjects are not necessarily the main focus of the individual essays, in some cases it's simply a byproduct of a larger issue or story that is being pursued while in others it is the primary story being investigated. In fact, in at least one instance -- the possibility of homophobic discrepancies in prosecuting pedophiles which was only lightly touched on in a bigger story about celebrities in the UK being investigated as child predators -- I found myself wishing the author would drop the main story and follow up on the side issue.

One of the better essays is the one which examines income disparity in the U.S., the author interviews five people in varying income brackets ranging from a dishwasher living below the poverty line to a billionaire who resents that his success has often led him to be portrayed as greedy or a bad guy.

I also found one in which the author immersed himself in a religious self-help style seminar group -- a series of motivational type meetings that claim to convert and convince atheists, agnostics and those in doubt of the existence of God -- to be quite interesting. Particularly the way he describes himself being drawn into the group think mentality.

One essay that I'm sure was particularly eye opening when it was first published in July 2005 deals with the unscrupulous ways of banks/money lenders and how a person's personal information can be collected, sorted and resold by companies that specialize in providing a target demographic to its corporate clients. Unfortunately, with all that's happened in the years since, most of what the essay deals with is old news at this point.

The book does shine a light on some of the more absurd and inane things people will believe in, while also counterbalancing nicely with stories of genuine seriousness and sorrow.

Overall it's a good book. I don't think anyone who enjoys reading about the modern human condition, told with a mix of humor and compassion, sorrow and silliness will be disappointed.

***I received this book as part of a free promotional giveaway contest. ( )
  Mike-L | Apr 8, 2013 |
A fascinating look at life's quirky situations and people. Very engaging and interesting. ( )
  jcelrod | Feb 13, 2013 |
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A young man called Bill stands in the shadows behind a curtain at a converted paintworks factory in Bristol, now a TV studio.
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Ronson investigates the strange things we are willing to believe in, from lifelike robots programmed with the personalities of our loved ones to indigo children to hyper successful spiritual healers. He looks at ordinary lives that take on extraordinary perspectives, for instance a pop singer whose greatest passion is the coming alien invasion, and the scientist designated to greet those aliens when they arrive. Ronson throws himself into the stories. In a tour de force piece, he splits himself into multiple Ronsons (Happy, Paul, and Titch, among others) to get to the bottom of predatory tactics of credit card companies and the murky, fabulously wealthy companies behind those tactics. Amateur nuclear physicists, assisted-suicide practitioners, the town of North Pole, a Christmas-induced high school mass-murder plot: Ronson explores all these tales with a sense of higher purpose and universality, and suddenly, mid-read, they are stories not about the fringe of society or about people far removed from our own experience, but about all of us.… (more)

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