Out of the Ordinary

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Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness[1] is British journalist Jon Ronson's fourth book. Ronson is known for his bestseller The Men Who Stare at Goats, which inspired the 2009 Hollywood film starring George Clooney and Jeff Bridges.

The essays in Out of the Ordinary were first published in The Guardian. A departure from the U.S. military bases and jihad training camps of The Men Who Stare at Goats, the pieces in Out of the Ordinary are mostly about Ronson's domestic life.

The book is divided into three parts. In part one, Ronson describes his parents commissioning an artist to paint a family portrait, a trip to meet Santa with his son Joel, almost finding God, and a diary-style recasting of Ronson's "Out of the Ordinary" Guardian column. Part two consists of a pair of essays about the court system—the "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" trial surrounding a sound expert's allegations that 36 coughs were made by one person during an episode of the show supposedly won by cheats and the case of Jonathan King, who responded to charges that he sexually molesting underage boys by comparing himself to Oscar Wilde—and part three turns a gaze on celebrities.

A Times Literary Supplement brief of Out of the Ordinary summarized, "if there is a unifying theme to these pieces then it is that we are all capable of misplaced zeal and irrationality—and that the gaps between the socially awkward and the sociopath are not as wide as we might think."[2]

Ronson's prose in Out of the Ordinary is characterized by self-mockery, what the Times calls his "charming buffoonery": he writes about having a panic attack when dressed up as Santa for his son. Parents, he says, "are like amateur bomb-disposal officers, forever cutting the wrong wires".

Ronson began his career as a columnist for Time Out. He also wrote the "Human Zoo" column for The Guardian and produced the BBC Radio 4 documentary Hotel Auschwitz. In an interview with Ronson by radio host Alex Jones broadcast in November 2009, Jones said to Ronson, "everything you do hits the zeitgeist".[3]

A companion volume to Out of the Ordinary, called What I Do: More Tales of Everyday Craziness, was published in November 2007.


  1. ^ Jon Ronson, Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness (New York: Picador, 2006).
  2. ^ Toby Lichtig, "In Brief: Out of the Ordinary," Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 2006, 5404.
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqNMsz_hh34.