Lost at Sea

3 December 2012 Books

Lost at Sea

Jon Ronson

Nebbish non-fiction author Jon Ronson has made a career out of plonking himself among cult groups, conspiracy theorists and other fringe dwellers, and reporting on how the experience affects those involved, and often himself. In this collection of ‘mysteries’, many of which have been published previously, Ronson uses his awkwardly disarming charm to wheedle his way into the backrooms of persuasive churches, militant marketing seminars, indigo child groups and Robbie Williams’ hotel room at a UFO conference. Much like fellow British journalist Louis Theroux, Ronson’s talent lies in his ability to maintain an open mind and channels of communication, even when being prodded by, say, some quack at a mind-training forum. The resulting debunking and stripping away of the facade of charismatic personalities is often hilarious, but this read peaks when Ronson finds himself taken in by his subjects: when his own anxieties and beliefs are tested. There’s a lot to be cynical about in the world Ronson investigates, but it is humanity’s (and Ronson’s) urge to believe that makes Lost at Sea such a good read.

Patrick Witton