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Loons will laugh
am 10. September 2012
I was searching for an intelligent, fun, *witty* book to lift my spirits when I stumbled on Ronson's new book. Judging from the reviews on the blurb, I had found just what I'd been looking for:
"I began "The Psychopath Test" late at night, tired, dispirited and ill - then found myself laughing like the proverbial loon for page after page" (Will Self)
"The belly laughs come thing and fast - my God, he is funny... Ronson's new book is provocative and interesting, and you will, I guarantee, zip merrily through it" (Observer)
"Excellent", I thought. Then I started reading. And wished I'd brought another book to my holiday on a remote Greek island. Let me just say this much:
Potential buyers, beware!
Those among you looking for an entertaining read, stay far, far away from The Psychopath Test. Most of all it is deeply disturbing. If you have a brain, a heart, a conscience, and a vivid imagination, don't ask yourselves why so many reviewers both online and offline find this book "hilarious". For me, it was sickening, not entertaining, to read about the unsettling account of psychopaths and the detailed descriptions of their deeds: whether it's the abduction, rape and murder of children, women, and men or large-scale crimes against humanity, you've got all the gory descriptions in here. For me, it was sad, not entertaining, to read about David Shayler's claims that he was the new messiah. It was sad, not entertaining, to read about tens of thousands of kids wrongly being diagnosed as bipolar. It was sad, not entertaining, to read about the girl who committed suicide after humiliating her "ugly" sister for the sake of a make-over reality show. "The most entertaining monsters" (Mail on Sunday)? "An entertaining exploration of madness" (Sunday Times)? A "funny read" (Stylist)? "Screamingly funny" (Tatler)? I don't think so.
Those among you looking for an interesting, intelligent book: stay away, too. A journalist who attends a three-day workshop on "psychopath spotting" and then basically declares himself a pro (yes yes, tongue in cheek and irony and all that - but still, it's the whole foundation of the book) certainly won't give you many insights you haven't had on your own before. Many of the insights he does offer are plain wrong, as any psychiatrist or psychologist worth his or her salt will be able to tell you. And much of the story is just rambling on about "madness" without real empathy with those who suffer from mental illnesses.
It's left me wondering whether Ronson was actually just trying to churn out another book to follow up his previous successes.