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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, light, educational, eye-opening
This is a really entertaining book, actually very funny at times - the bit with the alien medium was hilarious.
Theroux writes well - in a light and effortless to read style.
While it isn't too serious, he does pause to muse on the nature of weirdness, the origins of abnormal beliefs and behaviours in his subjects, and his own motivations for covering them...
Published on 9 Nov 2005 by Normen Maler

versus
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after the series
"The Call of the Weird" is so far documentary maker Louis Theroux's one and only book. He wrote it after finishing his series "Weird Weekends" for BBC2, which was a documentary series on subcultures (whether political, commercial, sports or whatever else). The format of the series was that Theroux would visit the centers of the subculture, participate in it to immerse...
Published on 15 Feb 2011 by M. A. Krul


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, light, educational, eye-opening, 9 Nov 2005
By 
This review is from: The Call of the Weird (Hardcover)
This is a really entertaining book, actually very funny at times - the bit with the alien medium was hilarious.
Theroux writes well - in a light and effortless to read style.
While it isn't too serious, he does pause to muse on the nature of weirdness, the origins of abnormal beliefs and behaviours in his subjects, and his own motivations for covering them. This is done without pretentious psychobabble.
The people covered are really fascinating and Theroux's interactions with them, as viewers of his TV series will know, are always revealing and amusing.
I really recommend this book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut, 17 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Call of the Weird (Hardcover)
The word 'debut' seems a little weird for Louis, after all, most of the people who pick up this book will be long familiar with Louis and his collection of mad hatters from across the pond. Settling down with Louis' journey feels like rekindling some long lost friendships. I was most interested to catch up with Hayley, who I am sure had a bit of a thing for Louis - who wouldn't? Not even Christine Hamilton was impervious. Louis writes as he talks: charming, self efacing and respectful of his interviewees despite them having some horrific views. Ah...with the exception of Marshall Sylver who was a bit of a scumbag anyway. More power to you Louis and don't let anyone call you a poor man's Jon Ronson.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny and fascinating read!, 11 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Call of the Weird (Hardcover)
I'm a bit of a fan of Louis Theroux's TV documentaries, but I came to this book not sure what to expect. Was it a travel book, a study in weirdness, a confessional, quirky, serious? But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how quickly I ploughed through it.
The title is a bit mis-leading - "travels through American sub-cultures" - as this isn't really a travel book but a study of ten characters who Louis has met over the course of his journalism.
Louis moves to America and spends almost a year on a kind of road trip seeking out his favourite "weird" subjects. A porn performer, an alien-hunter, a pimp(!), Ike Turner and some scarey racist neo-nazis to name just a few. The chapter I found most fascinating was one about a woman called April. She's a neo-nazi and has two young blonde twins who she trains to sing nazi songs.
Somehow the humanity of even the most reprehensible of these people shines through. And Louis obviously has quite a close, affectionate bond with a lot of these people.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to figure out what compels people to believe outlandish things or to choose bizarre modes of life. Keep an open mind, and you wil love this book as i did!
Am I the first person to read this??? BUY IT!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Addictive, quirky and thought provoking insight into sub-cultures., 26 Jan 2009
By 
As a Louis Theroux fan, I will try my best to give a honest non-biased opinion on this book.

Although before buying any book, I normally only read the negative reviews as I'm more interested in what is NOT good about a book I'm considering reading, I did gave this book 5 stars. I am an extremely picky reader who has a hard time finding a book decent enough to hold my attention - as well as this, it should be noted that the theme of the book is something i already have great interested in, so obviously that helped. If you're not interested in social insights, sub-cultures, even travel - then there probably isn't any point buying this book to be fair. Now, for those that are looking for this kind of book;

I found the book extremely easy to read, and highly addictive due to its segmented nature. Clear chapters on specific individuals representing a role model of a specific sub-culture; each of these chapters divided up into clear introduction/background, current progress and after thought sections. He writes in a well educated manner that not only makes reading it enjoyable, but also really helps the mind paint mental pictures of various scenes, people and places with great detail.

While traveling the USA to meet his topic characters, we have an insight into the surrounding society of various locations; towns, cities and states. The book echoes the travel writing style once popularized so well by Louis father.

As well as these sides to the book, I found it interesting in an almost autobiographical sense. Not in the sense that we find out much of Louis' life, but compared to the likes of the television series, we find out a lot more about his own thoughts, his aims and goals and his own concerns about not meeting them or not being the serious journalist he thinks he aught to.

Louis embarks on a journey not only through America, its subcultures, society, human psychology but also his own personality - almost trying to discover through these 'weirdos' who he is, and what makes him different more than what makes THEM different. I believe that's the crux of this book.

It's perhaps because of this that you will probably enjoy the book irrespective of your interests, but will take an even deeper joy in reading it if your a fan of the covered topics or indeed Louis Theroux as a journalist. The book can be deep and thought provoking, disturbing and troubling as much as it can be light hearted, funny and entertaining.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after the series, 15 Feb 2011
By 
M. A. Krul (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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"The Call of the Weird" is so far documentary maker Louis Theroux's one and only book. He wrote it after finishing his series "Weird Weekends" for BBC2, which was a documentary series on subcultures (whether political, commercial, sports or whatever else). The format of the series was that Theroux would visit the centers of the subculture, participate in it to immerse himself, and as much as possible let the practitioners speak for themselves without moralizing about them, but nonetheless in so doing revealing the odd and quirky aspects of the human personality and drive. The series has generally been extremely well-received, and deservedly so, not in the last place because of Theroux's own shy, nerdy and somewhat self-effacing personality and the friendly integrity of his approach in talking to people who are in one way or the other outside the mainstream. The occasion for this book was Theroux's worry that he nonetheless may have made a manipulative or abusive impression to the people he interviewed, even when he legitimately befriended them (like the porn star J.J. Michaels). To assuage his fears and to see what became of the people from the series, he revisits many of the most colorful characters again but without a camera, instead writing down his experiences in this book.

Unfortunately, the book isn't nearly as interesting as the series. While the quirky figures are still there, Theroux has very little to add to what he already presented about them in the television programs. Moreover, none of the people involved really seem to have worried as much about the impact of his program as Theroux himself did, and few of them in fact even seem to care (or when they do, they perceived it generally negatively but not because of him). Louis Theroux himself seems constantly ill at ease in his second trip, and the format of a book puts him more in the center of things and his interviewees more in the background, which defeats the original purpose. Finally, while there are some interesting and insightful bits, such as his interviews in the white power movement, in most cases the lives of the people concerned are more sad and unfulfilling than amusing. So while it is fun to read some more about some of the favorite personalities from the original series and to read more about the antics they get up to, generally this book can't be considered a success.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully funny, entertaining book, 10 Nov 2005
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This review is from: The Call of the Weird (Hardcover)
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the Weird Weekends.
If you haven't seen the Weird Weekends-then I suggest that you get the DVDS post haste!
In the book, Louis is reunited with some of his favorite, or at least, his weirdest 'subjects'. Some are happy to see him-others are not; some subjects’ lives' have become almost normal and others are as kooky as ever.
Louis is-as ever- endearingly naughty and often gives them enough rope to choke on. However, he also seems genuinely fond of some of his subjects, which i found rather touching.
I really enjoyed this book and hope that we see more of Louis' work in the future-whether on T.V. or in print.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insight or voyeurism?, 24 Jun 2008
By 
Andrew Walker "Andrew Walker" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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There are some great features to Amazon: competitive prices, the chance to browse for a vast selection of books at any hour of the day, generally good service. Here is a bad thing: judging a book by its cover (or the reputation of the author). I bought this because I have enjoyed some of Theroux's TV programmes and it sounded a bit different.

Theroux's plan is to revisit subjects he had met during the making of a TV series on weird Americans and see how they have changed in the intervening few years. The problem is that it doesn't quite work and I think Theroux realises that quite quickly. The writing is engaging and honest but it's partly a story of tracking the people down and partly a story about what they said when he found them. Neither story is terribly interesting.

The story of finding the subjects again is fairly tedious, to be honest. Theroux tracks them through the internet, phone calls and visits to likely hangouts but there's no great detective work or suspense, just description. And this is ok - Theroux comes across as likeable and decent, you'd actually like to meet him, but there are limits to how interesting the story of him tracking people down can be.

Then there's the times when he finds his subject and draws them out. Again, it's hard to get very involved. Another reviewer calls the interviewees dreary and some of them are. Some are sad, as well, and neither feature makes for very gripping reading. You could wander into your local psychiatric out-patient clinic and have the same sort of chat, I suspect.

Louis Theroux is a talented journalist and author and his best work is ahead of him. You wish his weird subjects would grow up and get on with their lives (some of them have) and you wish Theroux would stop hanging around with them and get on to something that really matters. The Victorians used to visit asylums to gawp at the lunatics and this feels a bit like the same voyeuristic serving up of human frailty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "...shocked by their beliefs...", 29 May 2010
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
There are some weird people out there in USA land and Louis Theroux met them, filmed them, and then went back a few years later to see if they were still as weird as he thought they were. This is the book that records his second trip, sub-titled: Travels in American Sub-cultures.

It is a fairly depressing book, since most of them were sincere in their beliefs and, unhappily for them, remain so. UFO believers are only the least deranged. They are mostly happy in their beliefs, at least. Not so the Aryan Nation believers, a damagingly depressing lot, not least to themselves. There are scary parallels with the hip-hop crowd, who also seem stuck in a time warp. He talks to a woman who names her new baby Dresden, to commemorate, as she says, "the real holocaust", and whose twin pre-teen daughters have formed a band to sing at conventions and make CDs of vile Aryan supremacist anthems. And then there is Ike Turner. Any mention of Tina is met with stone-hard aggression - so not much change there then. Theroux follows up a porn star he once interviewed on-camera, JJ, who has since married and seems as though he would prefer to be left alone, but a con-merchant who promised to make people multi-millionaires is undergoing prosecution and refuses to so much as acknowledge Theroux.

Theroux admits that he found in himself "...a parallel between the seductions of the some of the strange worlds I was covering and my own journalism. In reporting these stories over the years, maintaining relationships...partly out of the vanity of wanting to generate `material' for a programme or a book, I realized I too had created a tiny off-beat subculture, with its own sincerity and its own evasions. A little like a cult leader or a prostitute, I had been working in a grey area somewhere south of absolute candour..." He fails to relate his efforts, however, back to the purpose of his enterprise - to make money, whether in the form of hour-long `documentaries' or in this current book format. It may be that he is as unable to distinguish between the means and the end as some of his subjects. Several of them seem to think he is their friend. Louis Theroux often sounds as if he too thinks he is their friend. Balancing on the edge of tolerance of what should not be tolerated, exploiting the deluded and dangerous, this is a very sad book indeed.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird or wonderful?, 17 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Call of the Weird (Hardcover)
Being an avid follower of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends it seemed a logical to read about Louis' return to 'Weirdsville' in this book. I'd heard Louis was writing a book in 2004 but was, as another reviewer remarks, unsure of what to expect. However, I took a gamble on the hardback when it was released and was pleasantly surprised.
Following a similar format to the TV series, Louis returns to some of his previous subjects to give a greater insight into what drives their weird ways and provide us with an update on their lives. Be warned though, this isn't a comprehensive update on all of Louis' previous subjects, but rather a trawl through some of those he found more fascinating in the American west. This is understandable, as I'm sure updating us on past exploits would be a neverending story - however, it is a little disappointing that other interesting subjects such as the Boers and swingers weren't covered again. Nevertheless, this book does have the added incentive of containing various material that Louis began but got canned for one reason or another, a la Ike Turner.
Overall, I would suggest watching at least some of the Weird Weekend series before reading this book. These will add greater depth to the reading, and it is definitely good to have a picture of Louis, his interviewing style and his subjects in your mind before being brought up to date. Having said that, if you are simply interested in American sub-cultures then this book is well written enough to keep you entertained - my sister read it having seen only a couple of Weird Weekends and it has inspired her to check out the rest of the series. There's no real narrative flow so you can pick the book up, read a chapter, then put it down again. Well, in theory at least... I usually take more time reading books but was so engrossed by this one that it probably took me about 3 days to get through. Likewise for my sister.
So in answer to whether this book is weird or wonderful, I would have to say that it is both in equal measure. And that is why I would recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good if you've seen the TV shows. Less interesting if not., 28 Aug 2009
By 
Nobody Famous (The West Country, UK) - See all my reviews
I've seen and enjoyed most of Louis Theroux's TV shows and in this book he revisits a number of his American subjects a few years later, to see if and how they and their lives have changed. It makes for an interesting read but only if you've seen the TV shows on which the book is based.

I had watched all but one of the relevant TV shows covered by the book and found that the one I hadn't seen was much less interesting than the others. It helps to be able to visualise the characters and to relate to their lives as they had been on Louis's first visit.

I'm pleased to say that Louis Theroux writes very well, much like he speaks, and the book is easy reading. What I particularly liked is his honesty about his own (sometimes less than perfect) motives and his empathy with his subjects which is something that doesn't always come across as clearly on TV.

All in all a good supplement and follow up to Louis Theroux's TV shows but the book doesn't really warrant reading without prior knowledge of the subjects from the original TV shows. It'll probably help to know the subjects he covers so you can judge if it's worth buying the book. They are: Thor Templar (UFO believer), JJ MIchaels (porn star), Ike Turner (Tina's ex-husband), Mike Cain (American patriot), Hayley (prostitute), Jerry Gruidl (Aryan nationalist), Mello T (gangsta rapper), Oscody (religious cultist), Marshall Sylver (millionaire mentor guru), April, Lamb and Lynx (racist family and singers).
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