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The Last Days of August

Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (756 ratings)

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Summary

Please note: This audio features sexual content, adult language, and references to suicide and violence that may be upsetting to some listeners. Discretion is advised.

This is an Audible Original Podcast. Free for members. You can download all 7 episodes to your Library now.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the Samaritans on 116 123. This number is free to call, any time, from any phone.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC

Go behind the scenes with Jon Ronson

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Pathos & Bathos

I am drawn in by Jon’s colourful and dramatic promise of shocking revelation, but ultimately disappointed in what was finally revealed which was ultimately very little other than sordid inuendo. He announces early on that this story would NOT be about murder, so you think what could be a more shocking outcome than this? You hang in there listening to his voice dripping with insightful discernment, and the occasional aside along the lines of “before I tell you that, I want to tell you something he said”. You sit forward thinking “oi oi, here we go”, but no, nothing much really and then this is followed later by “come here till I tell you what happened nexts” and “you won’t believe this’s” till finally there isn’t really much at all.

A lot of people Jon spoke to had a lot of opinions about August Ames, her untimely and tragic death and her husband, who - understandably in my view - seemed well sick of Jon Ronson and his team by the end of the project and I was surprised that he stuck it out for as long as he did. He is neither established fully as the villain of the piece, nor as a grieving hero, but he is left stained by insinuation and thinly veiled suggestions of being a controlling bully, without any satisfactory evidence in my view other than the word of people who certainly do not come across as trustworthy in much of their commentary.

Having said all that, Jon does at least seem to include a lot of varied views in the book, some of which are scathingly and articulately critical of him and to his credit, he includes them and doesn’t dwell too much on defending himself or his endeavour but instead let’s them have their say and continues on. So at least those dissenting voices are there to give some of us the freedom to be critical of Jon and in fairness, this gives a nod towards some semblance of balance.

But in the end, I felt a little silly for taking Jon Ronson as seriously as I did. I was taken in by his mousy dulcet tones and I gave too much credit to his faux-bookish insight into humanity. This was a collection of conversations with a lot of flawed, damaged people working in an industry that must take a toll on one’s mental health and personality.

Overall, this model of seven chapters, each with the same saccharin spiel by Jon at the beginning and end becomes very irritating by chapter 2. I find his brand of mournful bathos mixed in with pseudo investigative journalism - like some kind of monastic Colombo - dubious.

But worst of all, is that accompanying MUZAK - that media device that is the curry sauce and melted cheese covering up the cheaper cuts of journalistic meat. That is the most damning of the whole thing. It nudges the weak-minded and the gullible along this path of non-intrigue. One can picture a huge factory full of ex-cocktail bar key-board players finding that there’s decent money to be made churning out accompanying soundtracks to pathos in the “nudging” industry.

The great stories on Audible don’t need ‘muzakial’ accompaniment and this one certainly doesn’t benefit from it.

62 of 73 people found this review helpful

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A bit cruel

I really did enjoy this but, without giving spoilers, I felt this was ultimately unjust and cruel towards a heartbroken grieving husband. After raising very grave suspicions about his character it can only conclude that he is basically a very typical introvert who loved his wife very much. A one point Jon Ronson and his producer justify this cruelty by saying he opened to door to criticism in the weeks following his wife's death when he lashed out at those who had bullied her of Twitter. He was grieving for heaven's sake! Surely everyone knows anger is part of the grieving process. He had some justification to make those criticisms too.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Fairly pointless investigation

This felt like someone determined to publish a crime story, when none was there to publish.
J Ronson should have given up when he first realised that this was going nowhere.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Ronson is the Real Deal!

I've listened to a few of Ronson's shows now including The Butterfly Effect which also covers the porn industry albeit from a very different angle. The depth and quality of research and the presentation is top notch. More importantly so is the apparent journalistic integrity which I noted in this one includes not setting false expectations.

This one I also found pretty compelling listening as Ronson guided us through a fairly complex cast of characters and situations. This journalist demonstrates his lack of bias and open-minded nature as he follows what seems at the start like a simple case of online bullying into the murky depths of the darker side of the porn industry.

The reason that I didn't mark this one as highly is twofold. Firstly I found it very hard to empathise with most of the people being interviewed with one or two of them seeming to be in competition to get the most f-words per minute into their answers but more importantly, they seemed very self-obsessed. Secondly, and mostly because he's such a good journalist and would not stop digging I don't think Ronson got quite the story he was hoping for when the truth was revealed. That said, the ending is powerful and sadly a little disturbing.

It is still a very human story, it offers further insight into this rather unique aspect of the film industry and I enjoyed listening to it despite those few reservations.

30 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and sad

Felt a little more biased towards the more sensational theory, usually JR maintains a closely involved but agenda-free vigil in his work. I felt captivated by this, dark as it is, I didn’t like the cliffhanger episode structure as it felt a little disrespectful but all in all more great journalism with real humanity from JR.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Found it lacking

Really enjoyed this, but it jumped from ‘murder mystery’ to ‘comment on mental health’ to ‘domestic abuse’ etc...way too quickly and without direction. I felt like they were stabbing in the dark at thin air and no one had thought to summarise it and give it direction during editing. Overall: interesting, but I’m not going to shout at the rooftops about it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An interesting and thrilling documentary told with respect and diligence. Love Jon Ronson - more please!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional

I was a big fan of Jon Ronson’s work, so when I discovered The Butterfly Effect, I was keen to listen. It was absolutely entrancing. I listened to the whole thing in a day.

This new story is sort of a pseudo sequel in that it stays in the same world to tell a tragic story of a young woman’s death, that was left unreported in the mainstream media. I urge you to give it a listen, and learn about the Last Days of August.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Sensitive, engaging, heartbreaking & brilliant

I’m so impressed with how Jon Ronson handled this heartbreaking story. At many points he could have demonised some of the people involved to ramp up the excitement & to add some juicy sensationalism, but he didn’t - instead allowing us to appreciate the complexity & humanity of everyone involved. If only the mainstream press could treat people with this amount of care & research stories with as much empathy & diligence. They could learn a lot from Mr Ronson.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Interesting review of the event

It felt real; some parts less 'pretty' than others with shocking realization how social life can destroy the real lives, families and careers.