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Book Review

‘Lost at Sea’ by Jon Ronson

It can be hard to know what makes a good feature story good. But sometimes you just know — you finish a piece and, with a contented sigh, say to yourself, “I wish I could write something like that.” Expect to do a lot of this sort of sighing if you pick up “Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries.” “Lost at Sea” is a collection of Ronson’s recent (and recent-ish) magazine work, and it is excellent.

What it comes down to is that Ronson, author of “The Psychopath Test” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” is a very, very good storyteller. And a versatile one at that: The stories in this collection range from an investigative profile of an assisted-suicide practitioner to coverage of a pop star’s pedophilia trial. If there’s a thread, it’s Ronson’s desire to report on and attempt to explain human dysfunction in its various, colorful forms — witness the titles of the book’s four sections: “The Strange Things We’re Willing to Believe’’; “High-Flying Lives’’; “Everyday Difficulty’’; and “Stepping Over the Line.’’

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