Now, you should know before we begin that I am not unfamiliar with Jon Ronson. I have read the odd article by him in the Guardian. I have seen one or two documentaries. I’ve even seen the man interviewed on the Daily Show. Oh yes, and there’s Twitter of course. Ronson is quite the Twitter presence. But – prior to Lost at Sea – I had yet to settle down with one of his books and read it cover to cover. I suspected that I’d enjoy a larger dose of Ronson and I was right.
What we have here are just over twenty different articles on a wide variety of different topics, from the man who tried to split the atom in his kitchen and got in trouble with the law, through to the curious and tragic incident of a young woman lost from the crew of a Disney cruise ship whom no-one appears willing to try and find. Along the way we spend time in the company of former pop impresario Jonathan King (which prefigures the Savile case and asks some truly pertinent questions about whether there should be a statute of limitations on behaviour when so-called victims are only looking for recompense), Paul McKenna (who it turns out is far more than just a televisual annoyance) and the trio of eccentrics who tried to rig Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Some of the articles have been either prefigured by documentaries (such as the piece on Kubrick’s boxes and the piece on Robbie William’s UFO obsession) and some of the articles feel like the product of an idle moment (the James Bond journey is a little light) but for all that Lost at Sea is simply a great read. Ronson has a way with an article somewhat similar to Joe Sacco’s vein of journalism – in that he is as much a character in events as the people he is investigating – and it may be that his faux naïf (if it is faux naiv) approach could start to jar with some people. But it didn’t with me. What Lost at Sea did do is send me back to his previous books.
Any Cop?: Ronson is a real talent and Lost at Sea is a pleasure for the heart and the mind. As with all pleasures, you shouldn’t deny yourself this one.