When I find myself highly distracted and struggling to dig in to a big old novel, I reach for short stories and essays. During a recent struggle to find the next great novel, I learned that Jon Ronson had published a new collection of essays. This made me happy. Jon Ronson’s latest collection of essays, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries is an achievement that equals his previous stuff.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jon Ronson, he’s been writing about the strange, absurd, and downright wacky fringes of society for some time now. A dear friend told me about his first collection, Them: Adventures with Extremists, several years ago. Ronson tracked down and interviewed a cross section of people who believe that a secret elite group controls the world. Many of them believe this elite group are actually alien lizards. Are you intrigued yet? He has continued to write highly readable investigate essays ever since.
Lost at Sea is a collection of Ronson’s more recent essays from The Guardian and GQ. Essays cover a broad range of topics from juggalos to indigo children to Stanley Kubrick to the evils of predatory credit card companies. What I enjoy about Jon Ronson is how present he is in his essays. Rather than take a standard objective reporting approach, he inserts himself into the story and reflects (a lot) on what is happening. You learn as much about Ronson at times as you do about his subjects.
Jon Ronson has a canny ability to blend a funny, fast-paced, and addictive reading experience with heavy, thought-provoking ideas and themes. You think you’re just having fun, but Ronson is dropping serious philosophical quandaries on you to ponder. That’s a tricky task to accomplish. Don’t miss out on Lost at Sea.