A sterling collection of amazing stories from an offbeat journalist at the top of his game.
Ronson (The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, 2011, etc.) is a British writer and documentarian whose printed work appears mainly in the Guardian, where all but two of these pieces originally appeared. Perhaps best known for The Men Who Stare at Goats (2004), about the military’s attempt to weaponize psychic phenomena, the author is a born skeptic who, nevertheless, is strongly attracted to the incredible and outré. The pieces range from a discussion about God, horror movies and magnets with the Insane Clown Posse to the title story, about a young woman who disappeared while working on a Disney cruise off the coast of Mexico. Ronson also visited mothers of “Indigo children” (toddling psychics), took pop star Robbie Williams to a UFO conference in New Mexico, leafed through director Stanley Kubrick’s obsessively compulsive collection of film research artifacts, and weathered the wrath of the “sociopathic” inventor of neurolinguistic programming (among other extraordinary hotheads). Each piece is delicious in its own way, amusingly told by Ronson, who is always a character in the story. Two standouts: “Who Killed Richard Cullen?” a damning and prescient look at the credit industry’s targeting of risky clients for subprime rates, and “Blood Sacrifice,” about the Jesus Christians, a tiny sect that decided collectively to donate kidneys to strangers.
Casual readers will find plenty to like about this excellent collection, but journalism and philosophy students should find it especially stimulating.