The themes in this excellent collection of essays revolve largely around class, religion, and scandal. In many ways, Ronson comes off as a kind of latter-day, slightly nervous, and far less gonzo version of, for example, Hunter S. Thompson or Norman Mailer. He appears in these essays and profiles as a major character, but the focus is less on him (and his frequently awkward yet amusing reactions to the worst of situations) than on the material at hand, which includes, among other things, the Insane Clown Posse, Stanley Kubrick’s estate, and a phony psychic named Sylvia Browne.
Although it was published in 2012, many of the essays in this collection originally appeared in The Guardian in the early 2000s. Curiously, two incidents described in the book (a game-show scandal and the trial of a former British pop star charged with “buggery”) occurred on September 10, 2001, so their relatively trivial nature stands in stark contrast to the events that would unfold on the following day. Ronson more or less acknowledges this coincidence within each essay, conveying, to some extent, the idea that life went on as usual for many people even as the tragedy of 9/11 unfolded—or, more to the point, that all experiences are relative, and that for the individuals immediately affected by the events in his essays, tragedy is tragedy regardless of scale or media coverage.