Jon Ronson (4 stars)

Out of the Ordinary (Picador)


Throughout much of his journalistic career, Jon Ronson has played a bit part in his stories, occasionally stumbling about in the background while his subjects (fascists, fundamentalists and felons mainly), hang themselves on their own ludicrous acts and beliefs. In this frequently hilarious and often provocative collection of Guardian articles, Ronson appears more than happy to portray himself as petty, awkward and bumbling while seemingly less than afraid to show his wife and son in an unflattering light. Not for nothing is the book dedicated to ‘Elaine and Joel’.

Separated into two parts, the opening segment has Ronson facing up to the oddities of contemporary life as a husband, father, son and neighbour as he confronts the hell of family portraits, Christmas cheer, sponsoring dogs and AWOL tailors. The contrasting second section features his investigations into celebrity paedophile rings, game show scandals and Christians who donate their kidneys while still very much alive. Funny and frightening.

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