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Book Review: The Call of the Weird – Travels in American Subcultures by Louis Theroux

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Subtitled “travels in American subcultures,” The Call of the Weird is a great example of how to use the role of a journalist as an all-access pass to many interesting situations. Author Louis Theroux’s turns in a handful of insightful essays that have renewed my faith in the power of the pen.

For Theroux the book's collective stories make up what he calls a “reunion tour.” At one time or another during his time making TV documentaries he had witnessed each of the scenes written about.

Among the subjects of Theroux’s musings and inquires are the captains of the porn industry, white supremacists, the law abiding prostitutes of Nevada’s state sanctioned sex trade and — my personal favorite — a piece on the embattled musician (who just won a Grammy) Ike Turner.

The Call of the Weird is a good read for aspiring journalists and hardened readers alike. The style Theroux uses to describe his investigations suggest that Theroux, much like the subjects of his interviews, is just taking life as it comes. There is none of the hard-edged know-it-all attitude that is so commonly found theses days among the cable-news reporters that run amuck on CNN and Fox News.

Call of the Weird is a light, unique and eye-opening work with a focus on some of America’s fringe issues and its social nooks and crannies.

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