Podcast of the Week: The Last Days of August

A tragic story told beautifully…

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After being obsessed with podcasts in the first half of 2018, to the point where I hardly listened to music any more, I have now settled into a more balanced routine. I have The Adam Buxton Podcast and a few football pods but that is pretty much it. The name Jon Ronson is a siren call for those of us who crave the darker side of life however, so when I heard he had released a spiritual sequel to last year’s jaw dropping The Butterfly Effect, I knew I had to act. And by ‘act’ I mean I signed up to Audible, without ever once moving from my sofa, in order to hear Ronson’s latest masterpiece The Last Days of August. Dynamism at its most impressive.

August Ames was a woman that combined two of Jon Ronson’s favourite subjects. Porn and online shaming. After refusing to share a scene with a gay performer, August Ames was shamed into killing herself by an online mob. At least, that’s what happened on the surface…

As always, Ronson is part Gonzo, part Louis Theroux, reluctant to make himself part of the story but naturally swept up in it all anyway. His refreshingly honest take on the true crime genre stands in stark to contrast to some of the more bombastic and sensationalised podcasts in this genre. Ronson simply tells a tragic story without having to resort to cliffhangers or staged revelations. The fact that Ronson maintains a grim determination throughout rather than the unsettling excitement peddled by other true crime podcasts is testament to both Ronson as a man and as a journalist.

Whether talking about porn, mental illness or men who stare at goats, Ronson is always able to offer a fresh perspective and a unique slant on well worn subjects and The Last Days of August is another example of this. It might not be as explosive as The Butterfly Effect but it is just as poignant, just as compelling.

The true crime podcast market has become saturated in recent months and too many of them are either reaching for something that isn’t there or flat out exploiting a tragedy for notoriety and financial game. Jon Ronson remains one of the world’s best storytellers and August Ames has quite the story to tell.