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No, it doesn't get much weirder than this: Thor Templar, Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate, who claims to have killed ten aliens. Or April, the Neo-Nazi bringing up her twin daughters Lamb and Lynx (who have just formed a white-power folk group for kids called Prussian Blue), and her youngest daughter, Dresden. For a decade now, Louis Theroux has been making program No, it doesn't get much weirder than this: Thor Templar, Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate, who claims to have killed ten aliens. Or April, the Neo-Nazi bringing up her twin daughters Lamb and Lynx (who have just formed a white-power folk group for kids called Prussian Blue), and her youngest daughter, Dresden. For a decade now, Louis Theroux has been making programs about offbeat characters on the fringes of U.S. society. Now he revisits the people who have most intrigued him to try to discover what motivates them, and why they believe the things they believe. From his Las Vegas base (where else?), Theroux calls on these assorted dreamers, schemers, and outlaws--and in the process finds out a little about the workings of his own mind. What does it mean, after all, to be weird, or "to be yourself"? Do we choose our beliefs or do our beliefs choose us? And is there something particularly weird about Americans? America, prepare yourself for a hilarious look in the mirror that has already taken the rest of the English-speaking world by storm: "Paul Theroux's son writes with just as clear an eye for character and place as his father.... And he's funny.... Theroux's final analysis of American weirdness is true and new." -- Literary Review (England)


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No, it doesn't get much weirder than this: Thor Templar, Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate, who claims to have killed ten aliens. Or April, the Neo-Nazi bringing up her twin daughters Lamb and Lynx (who have just formed a white-power folk group for kids called Prussian Blue), and her youngest daughter, Dresden. For a decade now, Louis Theroux has been making program No, it doesn't get much weirder than this: Thor Templar, Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate, who claims to have killed ten aliens. Or April, the Neo-Nazi bringing up her twin daughters Lamb and Lynx (who have just formed a white-power folk group for kids called Prussian Blue), and her youngest daughter, Dresden. For a decade now, Louis Theroux has been making programs about offbeat characters on the fringes of U.S. society. Now he revisits the people who have most intrigued him to try to discover what motivates them, and why they believe the things they believe. From his Las Vegas base (where else?), Theroux calls on these assorted dreamers, schemers, and outlaws--and in the process finds out a little about the workings of his own mind. What does it mean, after all, to be weird, or "to be yourself"? Do we choose our beliefs or do our beliefs choose us? And is there something particularly weird about Americans? America, prepare yourself for a hilarious look in the mirror that has already taken the rest of the English-speaking world by storm: "Paul Theroux's son writes with just as clear an eye for character and place as his father.... And he's funny.... Theroux's final analysis of American weirdness is true and new." -- Literary Review (England)

30 review for The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA

    Louis Theroux is who you read when you want to be shocked/horrified/OMG'ed "those Americans are just so weird"; or want to do a cult-y thing of tut-tutting as this confirms your views of just how society has deteriorated and just how close we are to the end times; or you like being highly amused by the totally extreme nutters who take themselves so unbelievably seriously and even hope to affect society for the worst (bring back the jackboots, where is the overseer's whip?); or you are one of the wh Louis Theroux is who you read when you want to be shocked/horrified/OMG'ed "those Americans are just so weird"; or want to do a cult-y thing of tut-tutting as this confirms your views of just how society has deteriorated and just how close we are to the end times; or you like being highly amused by the totally extreme nutters who take themselves so unbelievably seriously and even hope to affect society for the worst (bring back the jackboots, where is the overseer's whip?); or you are one of the white supremacist rockin' kiddies' fans and want to see their names in print as there isn't much positive about white supremacists outside of KKK pamphlets. This isn't either but it is sympathetic to the kiddies if not the movement; or, you were in a bookshop and took the book to the cafe, found it was so funny you snorked your latte all over it and felt guilty so you bought it. That covers all possible audiences, I think. Don't come in to my bookshop and do the last one please!

  2. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Alexander Theroux, a household name whose novel Darconville’s Cat is an inevitable sight in used bookshops from Alaska to Kyoto, also has less talented relatives, such as the male lead in Mulholland Drive, Justin Therditto, and the hack novelist and tiresome chronicler of expensive holidays, Paul Dittoroux. The hack novelist’s son is called Louis Dittoditto, and makes documentaries for the BBC about neo-nazis, prisoners, paedophiles, porn stars, rap singers, and other things under the bumbershoo Alexander Theroux, a household name whose novel Darconville’s Cat is an inevitable sight in used bookshops from Alaska to Kyoto, also has less talented relatives, such as the male lead in Mulholland Drive, Justin Therditto, and the hack novelist and tiresome chronicler of expensive holidays, Paul Dittoroux. The hack novelist’s son is called Louis Dittoditto, and makes documentaries for the BBC about neo-nazis, prisoners, paedophiles, porn stars, rap singers, and other things under the bumbershoot of ‘weird’. This diverting road trip from 2004 features unfilmed revisits to stars from the Weird Weekends series and stand-alone films, such as the unhinged prostitute Hayley from the brothel doc, motivational conman Marshall Sylver, and a mother and her two nazi pop twins (who have become internet legend). Devotees of the fabulous docs will find this book more light and reflective than the shows, and will find new material to savour, such as a visit with the cantankerous crank Ike Turner for an unmade Louis Meets episode. Louis is an economical and skilful writer, and turns his trips into candid and thoughtful portraits of people he never seeks to mock or humiliate, only to fathom and befriend. One day, might he share in Alexander’s fame.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    This is a very readable book - I just polished it off in a couple of sittings during the day. Those who know Louis Theroux will know exactly what to expect. Those who don't, research is easy - look for Louis Theroux Call of the Weird and pick out a few episodes of his BBC television series. You will know soon enough whether is your thing or not. His journalism is quite unique in its approach... In this book, Theroux packs up his house in the UK and heads to the USA. There he plans on living for a This is a very readable book - I just polished it off in a couple of sittings during the day. Those who know Louis Theroux will know exactly what to expect. Those who don't, research is easy - look for Louis Theroux Call of the Weird and pick out a few episodes of his BBC television series. You will know soon enough whether is your thing or not. His journalism is quite unique in its approach... In this book, Theroux packs up his house in the UK and heads to the USA. There he plans on living for a year, contacting and re-visiting a number of his previous interviewees, to catch up with them after a number of years - to see where they have ended up, and writing this book. For me, some of the people featured are pretty memorable. There is no doubt he has an ability to find entertaining, unusual but communicative, non-mainstream people. Yes, most of them are certainly society's fringe dwellers... His revisits are: Thor Templar - self proclaimed Lord Commander of the Earth protectorate - an alien resistance movement he set up to protect people from aliens. JJ Michaels - male pornstar. Ike Turner (yes the Ike Turner of Ike & Tina). Mike Cain - one of a sect of self-styled freedom fighters - part of a Patriot Community in Idaho who don't pay taxes or recognise the government. Hayley - Nevada prostitute. Jerry Gruidl - a 'reverend' in the Aryan Nations. Mello T - Pimp and rapper (even though he sounds like a herbal tea). Oscody - Former 'Heavens Gate' cult member. Marshall Sylver - Get rich quick shyster ("attend my seminars...") April, Lamb & Lynx - Mother and daughters - April being active in the National Alliance, and her daughters being a band called Prussian Blue, a white power folk band. Having said that, not all of these people are still in the same line of work (so to put it), infact, only a few are follow the same path as Theroux's last meeting. I won't spoil the comedy by spilling the beans. Good quick read if you want a laugh at, or to be scared by Americas more marginal subcultures! 4 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Louis Theroux is the host for television documentaries featuring people on the fringes of society: Pimps, hookers, white supremacists, porn stars. In The Call of the Weird he picks some of his favorites and tries to track them down to make sure they don’t hate him. As he covers their current life status he also questions his motives and wonders about his own weirdness. Mello T, a rapper/pimp from Memphis tells Louis that he ‘is a kind of a pimp, that [he] was pimping every time [he] went on TV’. Louis Theroux is the host for television documentaries featuring people on the fringes of society: Pimps, hookers, white supremacists, porn stars. In The Call of the Weird he picks some of his favorites and tries to track them down to make sure they don’t hate him. As he covers their current life status he also questions his motives and wonders about his own weirdness. Mello T, a rapper/pimp from Memphis tells Louis that he ‘is a kind of a pimp, that [he] was pimping every time [he] went on TV’. He also loiters for a few days at the Wild Horse (a legal brothel in Las Vegas). He worries he was becoming a “professional trick”. The stories are thought provoking – but mostly in a disturbing sort of way. I mean those 12 year old olsen twinish white power pop singers! And the hypnotist who would take all your money insisting he was teaching you to be a millionaire. I need to see his documentaries. I guess I’ll be searching google video/you tube to see if I can find them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kerstin

    Louis Theroux is every woman's English-nerd fantasy come to hot, hot life. This is the companion 'update' piece to the the Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends TV series he did for the BBC a few years back, so if you've seen that before you read the book, it's even hotter. Louis Theroux is every woman's English-nerd fantasy come to hot, hot life. This is the companion 'update' piece to the the Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends TV series he did for the BBC a few years back, so if you've seen that before you read the book, it's even hotter.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    Listen – just watch a LT documentary. I hate to slander my man Louis like this, but you’ll have a more interesting time I’d guarantee. If you’ve already seen his documentaries as well like I have this will feel a tad repetitive and not as engaging. Though this did a good job of introducing the reader to bunch of different ‘weird’ subcultures and groups of people – it was very superficial. The short chapters kept it moving and I understand why it’s told the way it is, but it didn’t really give any Listen – just watch a LT documentary. I hate to slander my man Louis like this, but you’ll have a more interesting time I’d guarantee. If you’ve already seen his documentaries as well like I have this will feel a tad repetitive and not as engaging. Though this did a good job of introducing the reader to bunch of different ‘weird’ subcultures and groups of people – it was very superficial. The short chapters kept it moving and I understand why it’s told the way it is, but it didn’t really give any chance for the viewpoints of these people to actually be explored properly. It just felt so haphazard and the narrative was a weird one. I don’t know whether it’s because this is an old book and more recent LT instalments are better handled, but something about it just didn’t feel right. I found the writing to be somewhat lacklustre as well. Like Louis sweetie I am so sorry but for a journalist this was all over the place. Please forgive me. It kept seemingly jumping to random points and to random people. It didn’t flow overly well and chapters sometimes ended without a well-rounded conclusion. It just felt so random. Completely irrelevant to this review but the font used for the copy I have is SO UGLY and distracting who on earth approved that decision???

  7. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    This book is about 'Merika -- the crazy fringes of the U.S. Theroux visits white supremacists, con-artists, gangsta rappers/pimps, porn stars & producers, prostitutes, suicide cult survivors, and alien enthusiasts. Although Theroux is technically "half-American," his lens is very British. This book is the story of his attempts to reconnect with people he'd previously featured in his BBC documentaries. Understandably, some of those people don't want to see Louis again and the meetings can be awkwa This book is about 'Merika -- the crazy fringes of the U.S. Theroux visits white supremacists, con-artists, gangsta rappers/pimps, porn stars & producers, prostitutes, suicide cult survivors, and alien enthusiasts. Although Theroux is technically "half-American," his lens is very British. This book is the story of his attempts to reconnect with people he'd previously featured in his BBC documentaries. Understandably, some of those people don't want to see Louis again and the meetings can be awkward. While I enjoyed this glimpse into the more freakish corners of my own country, I think I might have enjoyed it more (and rated it higher) if I had seen some of the characters in the original filmed encounters. Edit: I found the Gangsta Rap episode on YouTube and seeing "Mello T" in person really added to the reading experience. Also, Theroux is much more amusing on film than in print. His attempts at rapping about driving a Fiat and drinking red wine made me snicker.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This isn't just a poke at American extremism. Louis Theroux becomes quite introspective when he interviews his subjects. I haven't read a piece of non-fiction that I could relate to so well in a long time. Louis Theroux is also a hot piece. This isn't just a poke at American extremism. Louis Theroux becomes quite introspective when he interviews his subjects. I haven't read a piece of non-fiction that I could relate to so well in a long time. Louis Theroux is also a hot piece.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I'm a pretty big fan of Theroux's weird weekends and his other BBC documentries so I was excited to read this. Reading this kind of changed my view of Louis for the worse. Watching him is interesting and he genuinely seems like he wants to understand those he is following. And it's funny sometimes because he gives subtle looks and awkward silences that are much deserved some times. Reading this, you get inside Theroux's head and you understand that he might be a much bigger snob then he seems. T I'm a pretty big fan of Theroux's weird weekends and his other BBC documentries so I was excited to read this. Reading this kind of changed my view of Louis for the worse. Watching him is interesting and he genuinely seems like he wants to understand those he is following. And it's funny sometimes because he gives subtle looks and awkward silences that are much deserved some times. Reading this, you get inside Theroux's head and you understand that he might be a much bigger snob then he seems. That seems like a lot more malice or something knowing that he actually is exploiting some times rather then being fully interested in what these people stand behind. He might not have meant to be like that, but it comes out that way sometimes. It almost feel like a "get a load of this guy" attitude. But those are all still sort of undertones. The book itself is pretty good, and Louis knows how to keep a flow and hold your interest. The topics are also very interesting, and he has great and accurate information for each group. He also likes to ask some hard questions, which is very good. In short, personally having watched Louis and his Weird Weekends I was put off a bit by how shocking mean-spirited Louis might just be. Though that feeling might just be me. Louis weaves a good story, but personally I would have rather stayed blissfully ignorant of this book's existence.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    "'Why don't you leave the movement?' He rolled up a sleeve to show a swastika tattoo. 'See this? If I ever covered this up I'd be a traitor. Now I know the truth, I can't ever go back. I see everything racial now.'" A friend of mine told me about the Louis Theroux show on Netflix and recommended me to watch the neo-nazi and the most hated family in America episodes. So I did it and went crazy about the whole thing. As a journalist, I naturally like this kind of shows, but it was Luis's courage th "'Why don't you leave the movement?' He rolled up a sleeve to show a swastika tattoo. 'See this? If I ever covered this up I'd be a traitor. Now I know the truth, I can't ever go back. I see everything racial now.'" A friend of mine told me about the Louis Theroux show on Netflix and recommended me to watch the neo-nazi and the most hated family in America episodes. So I did it and went crazy about the whole thing. As a journalist, I naturally like this kind of shows, but it was Luis's courage that most took my attention. He's dealing with such hard subjects I wouldn't be able to do the same. Here we can catch up with the characters from the show. The book is good and well written, I enjoyed the reading and had fun with the Thor Templar and J.J Michaels chapters - besides the whole disgusting thing about the porn subculture. It was really hard to follow the neo-nazis and skinheads part, it's so unbelievable that some people are still into that kind of thing. Disgusting, sad, and shameful. I like Louis's personality more in the show where he's more fun and, I don't know, we can see how effective he is with the characters. That kind of journalist who always can get in trouble.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    I think Louis has a stronger personality in interviews, compared to books. This book suited people who had seen the Tv show and might complement that for those people. Unfortunately for me, I don't get the backstory and without it I attempted to read the book due to my recent discovery of Louis. The book is tedious and at times very dull, this is quite painful for me to write considering my love for the guy. Not a great book by any means, this needed to have a life of its own, it seems to be tre I think Louis has a stronger personality in interviews, compared to books. This book suited people who had seen the Tv show and might complement that for those people. Unfortunately for me, I don't get the backstory and without it I attempted to read the book due to my recent discovery of Louis. The book is tedious and at times very dull, this is quite painful for me to write considering my love for the guy. Not a great book by any means, this needed to have a life of its own, it seems to be treading water, afraid to take bigger leaps. The books has interesting topics but don't look for any investigation here, it lacks any real substance and is a disappointment in my eyes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle reads a book a day because she has no friends

    This was a fun little horrifying read. I think that just about sums it up. Be prepared to feel simultaneously entertained and devastated with humanity. (Note: most negative reviews I’m seeing have to do with the fact that this seems repetitive to those who have seen documentaries by Theroux. I have never seen any of them, and I thought the book was great.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phil Rose

    It was pretty good but felt as though he wrote it because he kinda felt he had to having dragged his arse all over the place.

  14. 5 out of 5

    James

    The American journalist, inventor of Gonzo journalism, and voice of the counter culture, Hunter S. Thompson once commented, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Louis Theroux’s, The Call of the Weird – Travels in American Subcultures, is an eye popping, heart stopping, and at times down right depressing telling of stories about some of America’s most unusual groups of people. In a Hunter-esque Thompson, gonzo journalism fashion, Theroux places himself within the story itself, often liv The American journalist, inventor of Gonzo journalism, and voice of the counter culture, Hunter S. Thompson once commented, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Louis Theroux’s, The Call of the Weird – Travels in American Subcultures, is an eye popping, heart stopping, and at times down right depressing telling of stories about some of America’s most unusual groups of people. In a Hunter-esque Thompson, gonzo journalism fashion, Theroux places himself within the story itself, often living with the interviewee for a short period as a means to really uncover the character behind the personality. As Theroux both interviews, shadows and stalks his prey he will engage with them in what at first appears to be banal conversation, but will then slip in questions loaded with both cynicism, and sarcasm, the nuances of which are far too subtle for his often dim witted interviewees to perceive. At times you are left feeling that all Theroux is doing is ridiculing fools and their foolish ideas, and the reason you may think this is because that’s what he does. Essentially his journalism is the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. His prey includes a pair of young twin girls who perform of white supremacist ‘folk’ music, the owners of and workers of a brothel, UFO abductees, self proclaimed aliens, alien hunters, and the fervent followers of incomprehensible religious cults. Initially his book takes the same approach as his television series; an Oxford educated, BBC journalist pokes fun at some of societies more desperate people, people balanced precariously on the extreme most outer edges of sanity. But, after a couple of stories Theroux’s tone starts to change towards his subjects, and he begins to paint their caricatures with more respect, perhaps even sympathy. He realizes that even though a person might be an extreme racist, or a wife beater, or the adherent of an absurd cult, but as he digs deeper into their stories and he suggests that these were once normal people, people that have become unusual as a result of unusual circumstances, a by product of their bizarre and twisted societies. Theroux discovers that just because someone has extreme racist beliefs does not make them incapable of charitable, humane behaviour. If a person devoted a large amount of their time and effort to help you find the laptop that you carelessly lost, you would likely consider them a nice person, but what if they also happened to be the leader of a white supremacist movement? Through the people’s stories, Theroux blurs the lines of our preconceived notions of right and wrong, he challenges the virtues of political correctness with the random beliefs, and the ideals of mindless extremism, to ultimately reveal the complexities of people and society in the 21st century. Seldom is life ever straight forward, a fact that Theroux clearly demonstrates by revealing that the normality the life is just an absurdity which was never meant to be answered, but to be observed in awe and wonder.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    I know this is the thing everyone says about books they don't like, but I really wanted to like this book. I picked it up because I remembered watching and enjoying Theroux's documentary work when I was a teenager, and reading this book reminded me of the reason, which was, in hindsight and to be perfectly honest, a kind of gross fascination with people who live on ideological and cultural fringes. The kind of "weird" didn't really matter as much as the sheer Weirdness. To a young person who got I know this is the thing everyone says about books they don't like, but I really wanted to like this book. I picked it up because I remembered watching and enjoying Theroux's documentary work when I was a teenager, and reading this book reminded me of the reason, which was, in hindsight and to be perfectly honest, a kind of gross fascination with people who live on ideological and cultural fringes. The kind of "weird" didn't really matter as much as the sheer Weirdness. To a young person who got bullied in primary school and high school, this was easy comfortable viewing, even if I didn't make the connection between the dichotomy of "object of ridicule" and "person laughing". This book can best be summed up by saying that Louis Theroux went on a road trip to see if some of his favourite weird people were still weird. It's a kind of easy-going version of gonzo journalism where he hangs out with his subjects for a few days when he manages to track them down. There are parts of the book that are deeply irritating, such as where Theroux describes feeling bad about having humiliated some people, then going on to describe his interactions with others in a way that is clearly designed to make them and others look ridiculous. He writes in a style that is mildly self-deprecating, but the more objectively you read the book, the more obvious it is that Theroux is in it for what the experience can bring him, not what he can learn or what he can bring to any substantial conversation about culture or outsiders. There is a lack of genuine empathy, which makes the moments of seeming genuine empathy almost glaringly uncomfortable, because they are mostly focussed on Ike Turner (a narcissistic, violent misogynist) and Jerry Guidl (a Neo-Nazi). There is little to no critical examination, or rebuttal, of the views of religious extremists, racists or abusers. It's just a simple showcase of "Look how Weird these people are". TL;DR: This book is shallow, easy reading and basically details the people Theroux met, the occasionally questionable decisions he made, and some interesting mid-2000's set dressing. This book is readable, and that is where the two stars come from. But that's it. It's not a good book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kinch

    Louis Theroux's style translates very well to written form and his adventures are, as always, hilarious, moving, full of insight, and deeply humanistic. Some readers familiar with the 'Weird Weekends' show, to which the book is a follow-up, may become annoyed at the repetition here of the shows' 'plots', but personally I found these re-tellings to be fascinating commentaries on the episodes and to add a behind-the-scenes perspective. The most striking thing about Theroux for me, is how much good Louis Theroux's style translates very well to written form and his adventures are, as always, hilarious, moving, full of insight, and deeply humanistic. Some readers familiar with the 'Weird Weekends' show, to which the book is a follow-up, may become annoyed at the repetition here of the shows' 'plots', but personally I found these re-tellings to be fascinating commentaries on the episodes and to add a behind-the-scenes perspective. The most striking thing about Theroux for me, is how much good will he usually elicits from his subjects, even when it's clear that they disagree deeply and, theoretically, shouldn't get along. This is epitomised by the perversely touching moment when an old neo-Nazi implores Louis "Are you Jewish? Tell me please you're not. Lie to me if you have to. Please' - this veteran racist would rather be deceived by a potential crypto-Jew than to have his friendship with Theroux jeopardised by racial tension. In case you didn't pick it up, I loved this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liv Abrams

    Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Louis Theroux. In this book, he catches up with some of his whackiest and most interesting interviewees. As a huge fan of his series, I really enjoyed getting an update on these people and seeing how their lives had changed in the years after Louis’ documentaries. However, I did find Louis’ writing style confusing sometimes. I often lost track of where we were in time as he jumped between his first and second meetings with the interviewees. I’m also not Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Louis Theroux. In this book, he catches up with some of his whackiest and most interesting interviewees. As a huge fan of his series, I really enjoyed getting an update on these people and seeing how their lives had changed in the years after Louis’ documentaries. However, I did find Louis’ writing style confusing sometimes. I often lost track of where we were in time as he jumped between his first and second meetings with the interviewees. I’m also not sure how much pull this book would have for someone who’s not watched the original documentaries, as you wouldn’t have a preexisting connection with the interviewees. That being said, I think that’s more of an excuse to watch the documentaries (which I would highly recommend) than an excuse to not read this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    I found the stories in of themselves entertaining- but in the end I didn’t feel any resolution with any of the subjects. I don’t know if this was intentional (perhaps a threequel is in the making?), or if that was the point of the whole book: a leopard never changes its spots. At times humorous and shocking, at others incredibly bleak and terrifying. I felt compelled to watch the original Theroux documentaries on these people. The tones were drastically different. I liked the more humane insights t I found the stories in of themselves entertaining- but in the end I didn’t feel any resolution with any of the subjects. I don’t know if this was intentional (perhaps a threequel is in the making?), or if that was the point of the whole book: a leopard never changes its spots. At times humorous and shocking, at others incredibly bleak and terrifying. I felt compelled to watch the original Theroux documentaries on these people. The tones were drastically different. I liked the more humane insights the book allowed into these people’s personal worlds.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Not sure what I hoped to discover with Theroux revisiting these documentary subjects, not sure he did either. Not sure either of us know much more now.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Obscurity and life I love to be an observer of Louis Theroux's observations of the human condition. He writes with a style that has me thinking of a British Hunter S. I find his combination of straight forward gonzo style living the dream journalism and at times introspective humility to the many reflections that life presents very appealing. He is a competent writer who has a free flowing approach to his work and an ability to make even the most ordinary moments interesting and reflective. Obscurity and life I love to be an observer of Louis Theroux's observations of the human condition. He writes with a style that has me thinking of a British Hunter S. I find his combination of straight forward gonzo style living the dream journalism and at times introspective humility to the many reflections that life presents very appealing. He is a competent writer who has a free flowing approach to his work and an ability to make even the most ordinary moments interesting and reflective.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Louis Theroux, you are brilliant. I love Weird Weekends and was excited to read the companion book to the tv series. It was nice seeing some of the people from my favourite episodes return and see what they are doing now. I'm only giving it 3 stars because I probably wouldn't read it again and it covers a lot of old ground from the shows. I think it helped being familiar with the series to visualise the people in the stories. Overall it was a fun and quick read. Louis Theroux, you are brilliant. I love Weird Weekends and was excited to read the companion book to the tv series. It was nice seeing some of the people from my favourite episodes return and see what they are doing now. I'm only giving it 3 stars because I probably wouldn't read it again and it covers a lot of old ground from the shows. I think it helped being familiar with the series to visualise the people in the stories. Overall it was a fun and quick read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Summers

    Reminds me of my own desire to explore lots of the places in the USA that are incredibly different to my own reality. I like the structure, making each chapter about a different person rather than the whole book being a linear timeline. I also remember a lot of the documentary episodes he refers to. My only wish is that he visited a few less racists and maybe some people from another kind of non mainstream subculture.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Danni The Girl

    I found that this read was just ok. I think because I have watched all of Louis's shows, I knew most of this information anyways. Nothing new came out of this book for me. It was nice to see Louis come out of his shell a bit in his writing, and to view him more on a personal level, as when in his shows he is a lot more reserved. Reading this book, I read it all the way through in Louis's voice, which I couldn't help, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I still think the weirdest story out of this is th I found that this read was just ok. I think because I have watched all of Louis's shows, I knew most of this information anyways. Nothing new came out of this book for me. It was nice to see Louis come out of his shell a bit in his writing, and to view him more on a personal level, as when in his shows he is a lot more reserved. Reading this book, I read it all the way through in Louis's voice, which I couldn't help, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I still think the weirdest story out of this is the aliens. I will never get my head around the things that they believe. If it wasn't for Louis going to check them out, I would probably have never heard of them, so thanks!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sam (she_who_reads_)

    4.5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    While down in Portland last month making a pilgrimage to Powell’s – easily a three-hour-plus affair – I found this bargain-priced find in the cult section of US History wing. My fascination with most things cultish and bizarre has included – in years past -- Jim Jones, Scientology, and even the Knights Templar (although the latter would be best classified as historically-based conspiracy, rather than a contemporary cult.) And much to my surprise, this collection of profiles in the extreme fringe While down in Portland last month making a pilgrimage to Powell’s – easily a three-hour-plus affair – I found this bargain-priced find in the cult section of US History wing. My fascination with most things cultish and bizarre has included – in years past -- Jim Jones, Scientology, and even the Knights Templar (although the latter would be best classified as historically-based conspiracy, rather than a contemporary cult.) And much to my surprise, this collection of profiles in the extreme fringes of American subculture is penned by no less than the son of Paul Theroux, that master narrator of world-travel (not to mention a well-regarded novel or two). Primarily a TV documentarian by trade whose works is better-known in the UK, Theroux follows up on a handful of his former subjects in the new millennium. And it is these follow-up profiles and interviews – written as a single, interconnected narrative – that make up this, his first published work. A good number of his subjects are white racist-activists/supremacists, who include Thor Templar, Jerry Gruidl, and April Gaede and her daughters Lamb and Lynx; all of whom are affiliated in some way (however remote) with the late Richard Butler and the now much-diminished Aryan Nation. Next in line are homegrown militias of the John Birch Society persuasion, porn industry performers, con artists pulling get-rich-quick scams, and even a surviving member of the Heaven’s Gate cult (you know, those black clothes wearing, Nike shoes sporting, end of times folks who committed mass suicide when Hayley Bopp made its appearance in our solar system back in the mid-90s). All of these people suffer from some sort of collective delusion, in the hope of escaping their ever-threatened existence in this lifetime. As both a journalist and amateur ethnographer, Theroux possesses a perspicacious eye that captures the full depth of these people that make them seem as likeable as they are strange – and even offensive, as with the white racists. “Weirdness, as I understand the word, is a form of belief or a practice that isn’t merely outside the mainstream but is also in some way self-sabotaging.” He also turns the mirror on himself, which is rare for most writers in this genre. "…I did start to recognize a kind of weirdness in myself. Occasionally, I saw parallels between the seductions of some of the strange worlds I was covering and my own journalism, In reporting these stories over the years, maintaining relationships partly out of genuine affection and partly out of the vanity of wanting to generate “material” for a program or a book, I realized I too had created a tiny offbeat subculture, with it own sincerity and it own evasions." It’s not often that the progeny of a great leader, creator, or writer is able to shine just as brightly as them – genius not being genetic, and all. Yet Louis proves to be just as brilliant in his own right as his father. Here’s hoping for more from him.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    Yep, this book was Louis at his best - as another reviewer dubbed him, the archetypal 'wooden Englishman' surrounding himself by social fringe dwellers, UFO enthusiasts, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, hypnotist cranks, cult members and Ike Turner... This book offers a reflective 'behind the scenes' look at Louis, a private viewing of his thoughts and inner conflicts as a serious journalist examining such outlandish subjects, his moral dilemmas... Really fascinating reading. I laughed a lot Yep, this book was Louis at his best - as another reviewer dubbed him, the archetypal 'wooden Englishman' surrounding himself by social fringe dwellers, UFO enthusiasts, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, hypnotist cranks, cult members and Ike Turner... This book offers a reflective 'behind the scenes' look at Louis, a private viewing of his thoughts and inner conflicts as a serious journalist examining such outlandish subjects, his moral dilemmas... Really fascinating reading. I laughed a lot, and was also moved. The thing that I found most fascinating was Louis' reflections on himself and his fascination with extremes in the human condition. I've always really admired Louis and this made me admire him even more. As a former journalist, I related to a lot of his dilemmas about exploiting people, and the border between professionalism and personal ethics. I loved that he has an amazing capacity to bring out the human being behind the outlandish beliefs. His paragraphs about truth and identity particularly resonated with me. He said, quoting self-help guru Ross Jeffries (whoever that is): "[Arguing with people holding strange beliefs...] is completely futile, because fundamentally, they don't care if something is true or false. To them, the measure of truth is how important it makes them feel. If telling the truth makes them feel important, then it's true. If telling the truth makes them ashamed and small, then it's false." He went on, "Why do people believe and do weird things? Because in the end, feeling alive is more important than telling the truth. We have evolved as living creatures to express ourselves, to be creative, to tell stories. We are instruments for feeling, faith, energy, emotion, significance, belief, but not really truth [...] We are all, in a way, fictional characters who write ourselves with our beliefs." That struck me as really, well... True! Especially these days, when many people create huge identity constructs online, kind of an extension of who they are that reflects them but is also not them. Interesting phenomenon. This book made me think. And I will keep thinking. That is a sign of a book worth reading, to my mind. Well done, Louis. Now, HURRY UP AND PUT OUT SOME MORE MATERIAL ALREADY! That is all.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Moon

    I went into this book knowing I would give it five stars, because it's Louis Theroux and I completely adore Louis Theroux. I've seen every documentary of his (I watched all the When Louis Met...'s on Dailymotion before Netflix finally hosted them, I got to series 3 of Weird Weekends before those were taken OFF of Netflix; I even saw that Michael Jackson one before it mysteriously disappeared...) and I love him both as a journalist and as a human being. I knew these exchange students in my first y I went into this book knowing I would give it five stars, because it's Louis Theroux and I completely adore Louis Theroux. I've seen every documentary of his (I watched all the When Louis Met...'s on Dailymotion before Netflix finally hosted them, I got to series 3 of Weird Weekends before those were taken OFF of Netflix; I even saw that Michael Jackson one before it mysteriously disappeared...) and I love him both as a journalist and as a human being. I knew these exchange students in my first year of university. They were from Australia, and they spent more time over the year travelling Europe than in class. They posted literally everything they did on Snapchat, and I'm not misusing the adverb here. I mean every single last thing they did and saw was on their stories. I'd see all these beautiful landscapes and buildings and I would think: "Wow, that's amazing. They're so good at photography."  But one day it dawned on me. Were they good photographers, or were the things in front of them so beautiful it was hard to take a bad photo?  I think about this a lot. Here's where Louis Theroux is concerned: even when the things he's experiencing are so comical and bizarre to your average, everyday non-pornstar, non-neo-Nazi reader that one is inclined to be baffled anyway, he can bring his own perspective to these events whilst never overshadowing them. It's why he's so great. In most of his documentaries, and especially in this book, he is our point of view. He can synthesise with his environments in a chameleon-like way you would expect of someone who appears at first glance to be lanky and awkward. It's an admirable quality to have, and one that makes all of his work somewhat exceptional, from the bizarre oddities all the way to the serious. Five stars, both for the book and for Louis himself.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pip

    I only recently got into Louis Theroux’s work in the last few weeks and I’ve binged a lot. Like, everything I’ve had access to have been watched and rewatched several times at this point. Because of his soothing, calming voice I decided to check Audible to see if he had narrated anything and was pleased to discover that not only did he narrate a book, but it was his own book. I thoroughly enjoyed this little reunion journey he took us on. Because I’m so new to his documentaries, I’ve only recent I only recently got into Louis Theroux’s work in the last few weeks and I’ve binged a lot. Like, everything I’ve had access to have been watched and rewatched several times at this point. Because of his soothing, calming voice I decided to check Audible to see if he had narrated anything and was pleased to discover that not only did he narrate a book, but it was his own book. I thoroughly enjoyed this little reunion journey he took us on. Because I’m so new to his documentaries, I’ve only recently ‘met’ most of the people he reunited with, so it was fun to see the differences in the people, and in Theroux’s thoughts about them. The book is more about his journey into why he is so interested in ‘weird cultures’ rather than the cultures themselves, basically a look back on his work and what he learned and continues to learn. It’s like a continuation of the documentaries, only there’s no camera crew to stand beside him, he’s more vulnerable and I think that gives his thoughts and opinion more strength because this is really just about him, not an audience.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Louis Theroux documentary style translates well from his BBC documentaries to the written word. In this book he tries to revisit some of the people that he met during the making of them. These meeting have various levels of success as he tries to connect to them at a personal level or find them at all. Some of the people interviewed include Ike Turner, survivors of Heaven's Gate, brothel workers, white supremacists, rap artists and porn stars. This book is also a bit more introspective than his do Louis Theroux documentary style translates well from his BBC documentaries to the written word. In this book he tries to revisit some of the people that he met during the making of them. These meeting have various levels of success as he tries to connect to them at a personal level or find them at all. Some of the people interviewed include Ike Turner, survivors of Heaven's Gate, brothel workers, white supremacists, rap artists and porn stars. This book is also a bit more introspective than his documentaries as he also questions his motives for seeking these people out again or in the first place. An enjoyable read if you are a fan of his work.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Inez Hamilton-Smith

    2.5 stars I didn't get into it like I thought I would. I guess I didn't like the format of trying to trek people down 8 years after the first interview, although I did enjoy the author's sense of humour - "We stayed like that for a moment, me looking at his genitals. Then I said: ok, you can put them away now." 2.5 stars I didn't get into it like I thought I would. I guess I didn't like the format of trying to trek people down 8 years after the first interview, although I did enjoy the author's sense of humour - "We stayed like that for a moment, me looking at his genitals. Then I said: ok, you can put them away now."

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