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Jeff, One Lonely Guy Paperback – March 20, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612183247
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612183244
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,378,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Amazon Exclusive: Nick Flynn interviews Jeff Ragsdale

Nick Flynn is a poet and the author of the memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, the basis for the major motion picture Being Flynn, starring Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano. His recent books include The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands and The Ticking Is the Bomb.

Jeff Ragsdale
Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn: The book is really something. I'm not sure what to call it--a cross between Studs Terkel's Working and...what? The beginning of a love affair? Or a stay at rehab, if one were allowed to text from rehab. It's unlike anything I've ever read. How do you describe it to people?

Jeff Ragsdale: I was walking around New York City one day. I'd just gone through a horrific breakup. I was isolated, extremely depressed. As I was walking, I came up with the idea of posting a flyer. In essence it said, "Call me, I'm lonely as hell." I thought if I was lucky 10 people would call. It took off instantly. Hundreds of calls. The first month I didn't record or take notes on any of the conversations. I hadn't really talked to people (outside of my significant others) for years. I loved talking to these people who called. The majority of the conversations were hyper-intense, dealing with addiction, abuse, suicide, dysfunctional families, psychological disorders, crime. I met people from all walks of life, all over the world. For me, it was much-needed therapy. I was the loneliest guy in town.

NF: The form is a highwire act, with the barest of set-ups. We are immediately up there with you, with these voices coming at us. It's both thrilling and deeply unsettling. Did you find the form, or invent it?

JR: I found that when people are revealing their innermost secrets, there’s no time for backstory or setup. "My dad’s gonna die soon. He has terminal cancer. We’ve never gotten along. I wasn’t there for him when mom died. I acted like a spoiled brat. I’ve wasted my entire life being selfish."

It’s amazing what people will reveal to someone they don’t know on the other end of a phone. People revealed their most intimate sexual fantasies to me. They would call with excruciating things they just had to get off their chest but couldn’t tell friends or family members. "I’m bored with my girl, but she’s a cutter. I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself if I break it off. What should I do?" I became a relationship counselor, a sex therapist, a probation officer, a confession booth. I found that people just need someone outside their inner circle to talk to, who’ll just listen and won’t judge.

NF: I know that this is a collaboration of sorts, between you, David Shields and Michael Logan. How did that work?

JR: I was a former writing student of David’s. I felt there was possibly a book here. I described some of these conversations I was having with people. He and his friend Michael were mesmerized. We came up with the idea of taking these conversations and combining them with passages from a personal essay I'd been working on. David and Michael called themselves the re-mixers.

NF: You said "re-mixers." This is very much in the spirit of David's manifesto, Reality Hunger, in that we don't have to create the world, simply pay closer attention to it.

JR: Nothing is more interesting than day-to-day existence. We just wanted to frame what was out there. Give voice to how people talk now. Show how they're trying to keep it together.

Review

“[Jeff’s] crazy idea actually worked.” The Oprah Blog

“You can either make fun of Jeff, One Lonely Guy (it would be very easy to parody) and reject its self-help earnestness or you can respond as I did: transported by a healing work of art despite (or because of) the enormous amount of pain surging through it. The symphony of voices here is an overwhelming reading experience. This short book is also a verification of a legitimate new form of narrative; it's the definitive document so far of where our medium is heading. I've never read anything like it.” —Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho

“OMG I love this!! It’s so Russian—very reminiscent of the Chekhov story “Complaint Book” (entries in a complaint book at the railway station).” —Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

“With Reality Hunger, David Shields offered us a manifesto, which unlike most manifestos, actually changed the world. Here, teaming up with Ragsdale and Logan, Shields embodies his ethos: we have crossed over the threshold, and are now—strangely, terrifyingly, beautifully—in this transformed world.” —Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

"The lit equivalent of a kiss-and-tell reality show and a frightening, utterly riveting thriller. This is not a pretty book, but it shows us the world we live in: unbearable everyday humanity, unwashed, unvarnished, completely captivating.” —Frederick Barthelme, author of Natural Selection

“A Goldman Sachs trader gave [Jeff] updates on the Occupy Wall Street protests. Others gave advice, and many vented about their own issues. . . People phoned from as far as Japan and Saudi Arabia.” New York Post

"But black-box confession isn’t new to the computer age, and the main thing that distinguishes Jeff’s activities from the work of a priest or a counsellor is his lack of training. His callers know that. Many have aired their problems previously through professional channels and now want to connect with someone who’s like them—someone who has nothing practical to offer but who may understand. . . They text Jeff. They don’t sit by themselves for months staring at their coffee tables." Nathan Heller, The New Yorker

“In Jeff, One Lonely Guy we are light years removed from the Orwellian Big Brother. Instead we relate face-to-face — more accurately, device-to-device — with the man with the iPad in the café, the woman on the train clicking through her cell phone, the executive who can’t stand to be away from his Blackberry for one minute, the teen who sends hundreds of texts a day. Alas, technology tempts us with the potential for genuine interaction. Or does it? The text messages and voice-mails Ragsdale receives are also a form of one-way traffic, flavored less by the give-and-take of personal interaction and more a form of self-engagement.” The Huffington Post

“The experience of reading it can be close to revolutionary.” — Bookforum


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Customer Reviews

Maybe reading this book will make you feel a bit less sad too.
Stephanie Elliot
Sometimes it was hard to follow the "conversation", and sometimes his narrative did not seem to fit with the calls/texts around it.
dSavannah George-Jones
It almost feels like a draft, and if the calls keep coming, I really hope that something better comes out in the future.
Erik J. Malvick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A. P. VINE VOICE on March 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The concept Jeff Ragsdale had for curing his loneliness was interesting. He posted flyers around New York City that read, "If anyone wants to talk about anything, call me. . . Jeff, One Lonely Guy." This obviously makes sense since, as a failed comedian and actor going through a rough patch in New York, he wouldn't be able to find any kindred spirits. Oh wait. . .

Regardless of how interesting this cure for loneliness was, the book based on the stunt has one major problem: Jeff's undeserved ego gets in the way of ANY effect the book could have. There are tons of touching messages from hurting & damaged people looking for support sprinkled throughout the book. Unfortunately, the impact of most of these heartfelt and gut-wrenching stories is ruined by Jeff's random input about his own life as a woman-beating drug addict. Yes, he claims that his beatings on his ex-girlfriend Kira (whom he dated for only seven months, yet had his life ruined somehow) were more complicated than just being a scumbag. . . but, let's face it: Any woman beater like this is scum.

And, we get his same nonsense throughout the entire book. Sad stories from people who genuinely need help are ruined by the italicized switch to Jeff whining about his own self-caused problems. There are actually quite a few times where someone genuinely needed help, but was wasting their time talking to Jeff instead of to a therapist. For instance, there's a a bulimic young girl with some crippling issues who begins a conversation with Jeff. It seems they're having an okay with talk with him, but eventually she begins getting more & more desperate because Jeff stops "helping her." Presumably because he's "sexting" with some underage girl, which he had done many times.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jeff was reeling from a bad break up, living Manhattan, and feeling completely isolated. In a desperate effort to reach out to mankind, he posted fliers with his phone number, asking people to call and talk to him. Calls started pouring in, as photos of the flier went viral all over the internet. He recounts some of the striking phone and text conversations he had as a result of this experiment.

When I heard of this little social experiment, I was fascinated. I thought that this was an incredible social experiment, as one man attempted to connect with real people while living in a society obsessed with virtual communication. I was incredibly disappointed for so many reasons.

First off, I found the set up of the book to be clunky. The conversations Jeff has do not seemed to be organized in any sensible fashion, other than a random word from one conversation would be also found in the next conversation, and by random I mean something as meaningless as the word "cornflakes". This means there is no flow to the content of the book. It makes it really hard to read, and although it is separated into chapters, there still is no sense to the order of the conversations.

For someone who claimed to be reaching out to connect with society, it seems as though most of the conversations are with lonely women, and are about sex. Which makes me think this was just a way for Jeff to get his jollies, have free phone sex, and sext with strangers. A few of the women mention Jeff having sent them explicit pictures, and elude to the fact that he is engaging in explicit conversations. I find this really troubling. I feel like he is preying on lonely women with low self esteem, and calling it art. I just was really turned off.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By K.T on March 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let me preface by saying I typically enjoy every book I read especially when you can link it to sociology or psychology. Which is why I was disappointed when i literally had to force myself to finish this short read. Jeff Ragsdale may have done this in an effort to get his name out,but he should have just left it alone at the ads and skipped the book.

Concept: outstanding
Delivery: awful

The whole book is just pieces of one side of the conversation that Jeff has with a stranger and while that may be fine to some readers, you'll soon realize every conversation is the same thing but worded differently. Jeff also adds minimal comments whether it be about his troubled relationship or about how touched he was by the person he talked to, but even that became sort of repetitive.

Had he been writing a life story and linked in these conversations it may have been better, but my Twitter feed is more entertaining than a 17 year old girl saying "I love you" to a stranger.
Oh and one more thing- since you dont know what Jeff is saying back, some of it reads a little creepily. If you read the book you'll understand, when it becomes sexual you cant help but feel like Jeff isn't turning these women down.

The best part of the book was the refund Amazon issued me.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lois Lain VINE VOICE on April 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If I could give this less than one star, I would.

What a waste of time and paper! When I read that Jeff Ragsdale, a down-and-out comedian, posted signs with his phone number around Manhattan in hopes of people calling him, I was enthralled. Haven't we all been there -- feeling like a lonely collection of molecules in a vast void and longing for human connection?

Well, that last sentence is deeper than the rest of the book put together. I expected some narrative theme, some interaction with those who called, some hint of lessons learned, connections made, lives identified and changed. Uh-uh.

Instead, this book is just a collection of the messages people left and the texts they sent, with no overarching commentary and very little method to the madness. The "author" didn't even include his own responses or reactions. As a result, it reads like a bunch of graffiti left on a bus terminal restroom wall.

If I wanted to read a bunch of inane, nonsensical, disconnected drivel, I'd read my Twitter stream. And the suggestion in the intro that this book is on par with Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground..." What have you been smoking????

I cannot believe he got a book deal from this.
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