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Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures
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Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,997 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Louis Theroux's hilarious and thought-provoking journey through weird America
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Published September 4th 2008 by Pan Publishing (first published September 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X smokin' hot
Louis Theroux is who you read when you

want to be shocked/horrified/OMG'ed "those Americans are just so weird"; or

want to do a cult-y thing of tut-tutting as this confirms your views of just how society has deteriorated and just how close we are to the end times; or

you like being highly amused by the totally extreme nutters who take themselves so unbelievably seriously and even hope to affect society for the worst (bring back the jackboots, where is the overseer's whip?); or

you are one of the whi
...more
Melody
Louis Theroux is the host for television documentaries featuring people on the fringes of society: Pimps, hookers, white supremacists, porn stars. In The Call of the Weird he picks some of his favorites and tries to track them down to make sure they don’t hate him. As he covers their current life status he also questions his motives and wonders about his own weirdness. Mello T, a rapper/pimp from Memphis tells Louis that he ‘is a kind of a pimp, that [he] was pimping every time [he] went on TV’. ...more
Catherine
This book is about 'Merika -- the crazy fringes of the U.S.

Theroux visits white supremacists, con-artists, gangsta rappers/pimps, porn stars & producers, prostitutes, suicide cult survivors, and alien enthusiasts.

Although Theroux is technically "half-American," his lens is very British. This book is the story of his attempts to reconnect with people he'd previously featured in his BBC documentaries. Understandably, some of those people don't want to see Louis again and the meetings can be a
...more
Kerstin
Louis Theroux is every woman's English-nerd fantasy come to hot, hot life. This is the companion 'update' piece to the the Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends TV series he did for the BBC a few years back, so if you've seen that before you read the book, it's even hotter.
Brian
I'm a pretty big fan of Theroux's weird weekends and his other BBC documentries so I was excited to read this. Reading this kind of changed my view of Louis for the worse. Watching him is interesting and he genuinely seems like he wants to understand those he is following. And it's funny sometimes because he gives subtle looks and awkward silences that are much deserved some times. Reading this, you get inside Theroux's head and you understand that he might be a much bigger snob then he seems. T ...more
Katie
This isn't just a poke at American extremism. Louis Theroux becomes quite introspective when he interviews his subjects. I haven't read a piece of non-fiction that I could relate to so well in a long time.

Louis Theroux is also a hot piece.
Brendan
Ok, this was a terrible idea for a book. To explain I need to give some background.

Louis Theroux is a documentary film maker. Fifteen or so years ago he traveled around America and made films on every weird subculture he could find. This included things like Professional Wrestlers, Gangsta Rappers, Evangelical Christians, White Supremacists, and so on. For the most part, they were very entertaining. He knows how to weave a narrative in film.

He decided to travel around America and revisit some of
...more
Erik
While down in Portland last month making a pilgrimage to Powell’s – easily a three-hour-plus affair – I found this bargain-priced find in the cult section of US History wing. My fascination with most things cultish and bizarre has included – in years past -- Jim Jones, Scientology, and even the Knights Templar (although the latter would be best classified as historically-based conspiracy, rather than a contemporary cult.) And much to my surprise, this collection of profiles in the extreme fringe ...more
Ruby
Yep, this book was Louis at his best - as another reviewer dubbed him, the archetypal 'wooden Englishman' surrounding himself by social fringe dwellers, UFO enthusiasts, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, hypnotist cranks, cult members and Ike Turner... This book offers a reflective 'behind the scenes' look at Louis, a private viewing of his thoughts and inner conflicts as a serious journalist examining such outlandish subjects, his moral dilemmas... Really fascinating reading. I laughed a lot ...more
Joseph Tafra
Louis Theroux's style translates very well to written form and his adventures are, as always, hilarious, moving, full of insight, and deeply humanistic. Some readers familiar with the 'Weird Weekends' show, to which the book is a follow-up, may become annoyed at the repetition here of the shows' 'plots', but personally I found these re-tellings to be fascinating commentaries on the episodes and to add a behind-the-scenes perspective.
The most striking thing about Theroux for me, is how much good
...more
Danielle
In this book, Louis Theroux re-visits several subjects of his documentaries and follows up on how their lives have gone since the documentaries were filmed. You really need to be a fan of his documentaries to enjoy it, but for those who are this is a wonderful book. It's totally engrossing, I had trouble putting it down. Louis is always purposefully obtuse in his documentaries, and so reading his inner monologue is fascinating - his narrative is very honest and he talks a lot about doubting his ...more
Shannon
*4.5*
As a huge fan of Louis's documentaries I loved what 'Call of the Weird' offered, the chance to revisit his former 'subjects' and see how their lives changed (or stayed the same). After watching some of Theroux's films I often wondered where these people where today (in particular Hayley and JJ), and after reading this book it offered a closure of sorts. While reading I often felt as if I could hear Louis's voice, as his writing is so similar to his speech patterns. I also enjoyed the subtle
...more
Henri Moreaux
Having seen numerous Louis Theroux documentaries including the BBC weird weekend series I was immediately intrigued by this book - it sounded like it would be an interesting read to catch up where many of the subjects now were.

Whilst it would be helpful to have seen the documentaries before reading the book to have some additional background, there is however enough overlap in the book for you to know what's going on if you haven't seen them, or have forgotten most of it. Thankfully, it's not so
...more
snackywombat (v.m.)
Apr 12, 2007 snackywombat (v.m.) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Freaks and geeks
I have a total literary crush on Louis Theroux. His thoughtful, searingly honest and wryly funny account of encounters with all sorts of American subcultures makes a great read for someone who wants to toe the literary line between travel lit and nonfiction. It appeals to the voyeurs and to the pop culture fiends, and only rarely skews to a prim and proper English audience -- Theroux was born and raised in England is exceedingly polite. There is a tolerance and level-headedness that only a forei ...more
Raj
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Following on from his TV show (Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends), Theroux goes back to meet some of the people he talked to for his TV show several years on. I think the main problem I had was the people that he met: UFO nuts, porn stars, neo-nazis, cultists etc. They were weird, sometimes grotesque, sad and sometimes pathetic, but what they weren't was sympathetic. I didn't really feel any sympathy or anything in common at all, despite Therou ...more
Gavin Smith
This is a fast paced and engaging read but ultimately just a shade lightweight. There's something about Theroux that makes you want to like him. It's the main reason that he is able to draw people out of their shells and make such compelling television. It's also no less true in print. I romped through this like an alkie at Oktoberfest, quickly, sloppily and never quite sure of my bearings. Louis has an incredible ability to bond with the strangest and most repellent of people but he communicate ...more
Deborah J.
I had seen Louis in most of his travel programs and I was awed at how poker-faced and innocently inquisitive he was in the face of the weirdest and most eccentric people to be found. Some were downright offensive.
Louis vents a little more here and is less concerned about being neutral.
It answers more questions, for me, about Theroux and the wackos he visited.
Zoe Carney
I like Louis Theroux. I like his documentaries, I like his dry humour, I like the way he engages with people who exist on the fringes of society.

So I expected to like this book - and I did, kind of, and probably would have more, had I not read Jon Ronson's brilliant 'Them' first. This feels like a pale imitation of that, a bit of a cash-in, to be honest. Which I can't really blame him for, but it was disappointing nonetheless. His subjects either don't want to talk to him or seem as bemused as I
...more
Iain
Enjoyable enough book. Unusually, I ultimately preferred the TV series (call me lazy). Interesting enough read about American sub-cultures though. Good to pick up and maybe read a chapter at a time before bed. Entertaining if slightly disturbing.
Jen
i read this book as a follow up to the manic watch-a-thon i had over the summer watching louis' programs. 'manic watch-a-thon' is a phrase that should say it all...get going...find louis on google video and watch already...
Nerrida Poke
Was well written but if you've seen Theroux's documentaries and tv show this book doesn't actually offer anything you haven't already seen.
Danièle
I've long enjoyed watching Louis Theroux' documentary programmes. He has a knack of finding people whose lives are out of the ordinary, and finding a balance between asking pertinent questions and fading into the background, to essentially allow them to tell their own story.

What I found interesting about this book is that you get more of Louis from it, than you do from his programmes. Because he is writing from his own point of view, and not having to worry annoying his interviewees or stopping
...more
Ru
As is the case with Louis Theroux's BBC shows, this book is solidly captivating. It's chock full of weirdos, from neo-Nazis to alien conspiracists to pornographers, and others, but the style by which they are presented is pretty commendable. Theroux treats them like regular people first and lets their weird traits exist above them, so that the reader sees them as genuine articles, instead of freakshows. Essentially, aside from their ways of life outside of the mainstream, they are decidedly aver ...more
Ally
I'd seen a couple of Louis Theroux's more recent documentaries - one on bodybuilding in men and women, and one on the using medication in children for conditions such as ADHD, OCD and depression, as well as one a couple of years ago on crystal meth use in an American city (I can't remember which one). I find his documentaries fascinating, so when I found out he'd written a book as a follow up to some of his earlier work, I was excited to look it up.

I wasn't disappointed. Covering a wide range o
...more
Todd Martin
Luis Theroux is a British broadcaster who it best known for his documentaries about various “weird” topics. In The Call of the Weird, Theroux revisits some of the subjects he had previously covered for the BBC including: UFO believers, Ike Turner, a get-rich-quick guru, neo-Nazi’s, the Heaven’s Gate cult, and gangster rappers. While not exactly condoning his subjects actions and beliefs, Theroux does attempt to humanize these individuals and seems to deliberately avoid ridicule ... and this is o ...more
Tim
We Americans tend to pride ourselves on having � or at least perceiving ourselves to have � an independent or maverick streak. Regardless of whether it actually exists, it also seems to contribute to America seeming to have a perhaps disproportionate share of kooks. And whether you consider them part of a counterculture, a subculture or the margins of American society, they attract the attention of London-based documentary filmmakers.[return][return]Beginning in 1994, Louis Theroux, who holds du ...more
Nina
I can't compare this to other books because I don't read a lot of non fiction or autobiographical stuff. So i'm going from zip here.
This book did everything I want from a book, it made me laught out loud although I was often on the train. When a book can get me out of my immediate surroundings it's a success.

I love Louis and I've been following his documentaries for years. He's charming and critical and finds subcultures I hardly know of. This book is most fun if you have seen most of his docs,
...more
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
Louis Theroux is a British documentarian who is best known for his series Weird Weekends. In the series, he spends an hour a week looking into various outsider groups in the United States - from neo-Nazis to porn stars to UFO enthusiasts. In this book, he revisits some of the people he met while filming his documentaries and focuses on where they are now.

Writing
I love Theroux's documentaries, though I have to say that I wish I had watched them all before reading the book, instead of the other wa
...more
James
A fun read and a must if you enjoy Theroux's documentaries. It gives a bit of insight in how he thinks and approaches topics. Fans of his BBC 'weird' series from the late Nineties will also enjoy the updates.

As a book, it really reminds me of Jon Ronson's work - giving an interesting and very first-hand account of people and ideas that occupy the fringes of society. Theroux comes across as very objective, though he often vocalises his own subjective opinions within the text. It serves to give c
...more
Jade Heslin
Oh Louis. Louis, Louis, Louis. You are just as good at writing as you are at broadcasting. I’m in love.

In this collection, Louis revisits many of the nutjobs that he encountered in his ‘Weird Weekends’ documentary. You’d be surprised how much more insane people can be without the presence of a camera (that is, indeed if Louis is telling the truth – and I wouldn’t doubt that for a second).

Each ‘chapter’ begins with a small recap of what happened during the initial TV broadcast. I found this confu
...more
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Louis (Sebastian) Theroux was born in Singapore in 1970. His father, the American novelist and travel writer, Paul Theroux, met his mother, who worked for the V.S.O., in Uganda. Louis’ older brother Marcel Theroux was born in Kampala, "so as children we sort of globe trotted." But his father decided to buy a family home in England, and they settled down in a big, rambling, dilapidated house in Wan ...more
More about Louis Theroux...
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“How odd, I thought, that even though I don't believe it still feels nice to be included.” 6 likes
“The world is a stage we walk upon. We are all in a way fictional characters who write ourselves with our beliefs.” 6 likes
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