The Call of the Weird

The Call of the Weird : Travels in American Subcultures

3.66 (3,125 ratings by Goodreads)
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For ten years Louis Theroux has been making programmes about off-beat characters on the fringes of US society. Now he revisits America and the people who have most fascinated him to try to discover what motivates them, why they believe the things they believe, and to find out what has happened to them since he last saw them. Along the way Louis thinks about what drives him to spend so much time among weird people, and considers whether he's learned anything about himself in the course of ten years working with them. Has he manipulated the people he's interviewed, or have they manipulated him? From his Las Vegas base, Louis revisits the assorted dreamers and outlaws who have been his TV feeding ground. Attempting to understand a little about himself and the workings of his own mind, Louis considers questions such as: What is the difference between pathology and 'normal' weirdness? Is there something particularly weird about Americans? What does it mean to be weird, or 'to be yourself'? And do we choose our beliefs or do our beliefs choose us?show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 20mm | 220g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • Pan Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Reprints
  • 0330435701
  • 9780330435703
  • 26,636

Review Text

Former Spy magazine contributor Theroux (son of writer Paul Theroux) offers ten surprisingly mild examples of American eccentricity.With some trepidation, the author embarked on a "Reunion Tour" to revisit many of the oddballs he'd encountered several years back while filming the BBC documentary Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. He hoped that his subjects didn't think too poorly of him after the mocking way they'd been presented. He found some subjects had changed. Thor Templar, Lord Protector of the Earth Protectorate, the man who once claimed to have decapitated space aliens, had refocused his energies on debunking the Bush administration. Erstwhile porn star JJ Michaels was living in suburban Missouri with a Ukrainian mail-order bride. Former prostitute Hayley, now calling herself Tammy, had a boyfriend and was volunteering at an animal sanctuary, though she danced at a strip club to make money. Some folks were still the same, including radical Aryan Nations member Jerry Gruidl and hardcore, stone-cold "gangsta" rapper Mello T. And 12-year-old white-supremacist twin sisters Lamb and Lynx Gaede were still extolling the virtues of the Nazi-sympathetic lifestyle with their folk band, Prussian Blue, while mom April (source of the "pixie-faced" twins' racism) cooed over new baby Dresden. Theroux's account of his hard-won, unsolicited visit with the Gaede family is morbidly appealing and thought-provoking. Less remarkable are his descriptions of follow-ups with grizzled music-biz veteran Ike Turner, still artfully dodging "Tina" questions; with the founder of a now-disbanded "patriot" community called "Almost Heaven"; and with the few remaining survivors of the Heaven's Gate cult (best known for a mass suicide in 1997).A mixed bag of peculiar encounters with bizarre citizens, alternately fascinating and sad. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

Curled Up with a Good Book, 8/08"It's a fun read, but even more so, it's an interesting one. You'll have trouble putting it down...Theroux presents the humanity in his subjects without necessarily sympathizing with them, walking the fine line between their extreme views and the normalcy of everyday life... Alternately funny and disturbing...An excellent read."show more

About Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux went to America after graduating from Oxford University, where he wrote for satirical magazine Spy. After working on Michael Moore's 'TV Nation', Louis hosted his own show, 'Weird Weekends' for the BBC. He followed this with the hugely popular series 'Louis meets...' in which he spent time with, amongst others, Jimmy Savile, Neil and Christine Hamilton, and Chris Eubank. This is Louis' first more

Rating details

3,125 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 16% (503)
4 42% (1,325)
3 34% (1,071)
2 6% (199)
1 1% (27)
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