Like many great things in life, it started out so simply. “Read the Psychopath Test”, my friend Alice told me, “I think you’ll really like it.” And I did. So bought more and read more and feel in love with a man called Jon Ronson. Call it a hobby, but I like chasing authors and listening to their stories. Jon Ronson told his Tumblr and Twitter followers about a talk with Book Slam, London’s first, best and only literary nightclub. I booked my ticket and talked about it excitedly.
Another friend asked what I was so fervent about. “I’m seeing Jon Ronson speak.” “Who’s he?” he asked. I went quiet. How to describe Jon Ronson? I’d read Psychopath Test and Them, and was half way through Lost at Sea at this point. The best I could up with was this: “He chases people and writes about them, psychopaths and extremists, people you shouldn’t chase.” So this is a mixture of things; a write up of that evening, book reviews and an open love letter to a brilliant man that asks all the right questions.
Book Slam felt like a literary Speakeasy, it was lit by candles and filled wine to the brim of the plastic cup. A couple of fellow word aficionados and I took our seats near the front and ate curry off paper plates. Ronson was the headliner, supported by the eccentric Luke Wright and soulful De’Borah, compared by Dominic Frisby. I’ve seen Luke Wright before, he came to my university back in 2009. I still have the brochure for the Lakeside Theatre telling me to come down at 7pm. I don’t want to make his swollen twelve year old head (his words) any bigger, but he made me see poetry as something more than words on a page: three dimensional, laugh out loud poetry.
After an embarrassing moment of Frisby thinking he was a novelist (he only writes ‘honestly-you-couldn’t-make-this-shit-up’ aka non-fiction), Ronson walks onto the stage and does what he does best, tell stories. The yarn he wishes to spin is a personal one about his son, he reads off his phone as it was too painful to put in a book: The Tale of The Worst Swear Word. In a moment of panic, Ronson discloses to his son the worst swear word is limone after seeing a can of Italian lemonade in the car on the way home from Chessington World of Adventures.
Naturally assuming people had read some of his books; Ronson talked about the work behind his books, particularly The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea, highlighting some memorable moments. However, his moments include fighting crime with real life American Superheroes and a UFO convention with Robbie Williams, so how do you pick a favourite? How does one live a normal life when you do shit like that on a regular bias? Let alone write it down in a witty and engaging way that makes you wish he spent a little more time with convicted paedophiles. There are more daring and humiliating stories that haven’t been published that may make his way into his new book about humiliation. I fear I may be in it after an awkward moment of light chit chat, I told Ronson all about that rash I once had which he quietly signed my book, too polite to ask what the fuck I was on.
The Psychopath Test:
“It’s an incredible exploration into the world of mental health, and the shock facts and people behind the word ‘psychopath’. Not only are these nasty people in prison but at top of companies, Ronson exposes the checklist of twenty traits that can free you or imprison you. Mental but brilliant insight which poses the question: are we all a little mad?”
“I am a huge fan of Jon Ronson and this is a mesmerising examination of those labelled ‘extremists’. Ronson shows these individuals in a new light whilst remaining critical and provoking, there were some periods of time and terms I wasn’t familiar with that needed further research but it’s an engaging read nonetheless.”
Lost At Sea
“This is collection of adventures from here, there and everywhere. But it is not enough. The stories are too short and leave you wanting more. Ronson is a mystical, magical story teller who finds truth that is stranger than any fiction. From hilarity to thought provoking in a beat, each new story is a glimpse into unknown worlds. I’m thankful Ronson goes so we don’t have to. Besides, it’s the way he tells ‘em.”