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Pulphead: Essays Kindle Edition

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Length: 383 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2011: What a fresh and daring voice. John Jeremiah Sullivan is a dynamic and gutsy writer, a cross between Flannery O'Connor and a decaffeinated Tom Wolfe, with just the right dash of Hunter S. Thompson. In fourteen essays ranging from an Axl Rose profile to an RV trek to a Christian rock festival to the touching story of his brother's near-death electrocution, Sullivan writes funny, beautiful, and very real sentences. The sum of these stories portrays a real America, including the vast land between the coasts. Staying just this side of cynical, Sullivan displays respect for his subjects, no matter how freakish they may seem (see Axl Rose). Put another way: if Tom Waits wrote essays, they might sound like Pulphead. --Neal Thompson

Review

"The ghost of Mark Twain is evoked in this outstanding collection of essays" Sunday Times "Pulphead is a big, fat, frequently exhilarating collection" Guardian "Pulphead has a ramshackle loquacity, a down-home hyper-eloquence and an off-the-wallishness that is quite distinct - and highly addictive" -- Goeff Dyer "The best, and most important collection of magazine writing since David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" New York Times Book Review "From prehistoric caves to Axl Rose's oxygen chamber, Sullivan's generous, witty voice lights up every page" -- Joe Dunthorne

Product Details

  • File Size: 778 KB
  • Print Length: 383 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 25, 2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051O9MHW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,954 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A reader on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
For years, I've been reading John Jeremiah Sullivan's essays in GQ, the Paris Review, and other publications with pleasure and admiration. Now his pieces have been collected in one handy paperback, and re-reading them reminds me that he's simply one of the most wonderful writers working today, in any genre. His voice is funny and informed, but also warm and personal and empathetic. He sees his subjects with great compassion; one of the great surprises of his essays is the way that he goes deep below the surface when writing about pop phenomenon (such as Michael Jackson or the cast of The Real World) that the rest of us might be quick to dismiss. Sullivan is also a master of the short-form memoir. His essay "Mr. Lytle" is a heartbreaking portrait of a literary mentor that is also about intergenerational friendship, sexuality, the South, and so many other things. "Pulphead" is a delight.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Hannah on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
A writer of such ghastly intelligence, my own brain feels almost palsied by comparison. I would mind, but anyone who can produce such a fierce, incisive wit while managing not to take cheap pot-shots at One Tree Hill deserves those National Magazine Awards. I've used these essays in the classroom, to get friends, to remind myself what how good writing can be.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on November 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "Pulphead" John Jeremiah Sullivan has written the funniest book by Chuck Klosterman, the sunniest book by David Foster Wallace, and the literary follow-up to Bob Dylan's "The Basement Tapes." Does his sounding like other writers mean he has a less than unique voice of his own? Perhaps. But that is a byproduct of what Keats called "negative capability:" being more interested in the the subjects of one's essays than in oneself. There will be plenty of time for self-exploration in what I hope will be many other books. Right now, Sullivan values elegance over quirkiness, clarity over color. And each time he trains his Swarovzski-sniper-(in)sight at his targets, he shoots bullets of pure love, if anything reserving even more understanding and sympathy for the infamous. These essays are a demonstration of how the vinegar of genius when stirred into the milk of human kindness and aged in the dark cave of the soul yields an inexhaustible variety of tastes and textures. Each piece here surprises and one-ups its predecessor. And oh, the erudition. In these pages one reads that Auden said "all art results from humiliation" and also that elephants regularly rape rhinoceroses. Unless Sullivan is making this up. He might be: he is an ingenious, adroit, admitted liar. But even his lies reveal the truth. This book is a nexus where the soiled and tangled roots of American myth meet the unreality of our media culture with the contradictory braided reflectiveness of an Escher engraving. As a Southern epic-comic social critic, Sullivan has not yet scaled the heights of Twain or John Kennedy Toole, but has already far surpassed Tom Wolfe. Hurry up with that novel, but for God's sake, don't kill yourself over it. Even if you never equal this collection, it will be good enough.
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful By George Stoyonovich on November 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has received a lot of notice in the past week from influential sources. Sullivan's name gets put into sentences with Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. However, I find those comparisons lacking. Sullivan's got something in his voice that sets him apart from those guys, something that might be a willingness to go vulnerable, and to mount a prodigious intellect on top of that willingness. True curiosity requires it. Wolfe, Thompson, and DFW didn't have it so much, as far as I can tell, although they did have tremendous merits. Bob Dylan, as great as he is, and as much as I love his work, doesn't have it. In 50 years since Dylan first appeared, has a female writer ever written anything of import about Dylan? In the terrific Bob Dylan Reader there's only one piece by a woman, a brief inconsequential piece by Joyce Carol Oates.

So much of the popularity of Wolfe, Thompson, DFW, and Dylan is male wish-fulfillment, and those four artists knew it. Sullivan may know it, but his work doesn't show it. I don't remember any strong, supportive pieces about Wolfe, Thompson, or DFW by women, either. I'm not a Sullivan scholar, but I check out most of the literary outlets fairly regularly and I know that the influential blogger Maud Newton is a vocal supporter of Sullivan's.

It will be interesting to see what Sullivan produces over the next twenty years. He could emerge as the most significant writer of the time, somebody I'd put in a sentence with Didion, Sebald, Berger, McPhee, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bill Sharp on November 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm age 72 and a life-long reader, have a couple of Masters degrees, and used to belong to MENSA. This is as wonderful a book as I have read in a long time, maybe forever. The depth of the intellect shown here, the command of vocabulary, the naturalness of the writing, and the amazing detail is all just stupendous. I never knew I'd be interested in some of the subjects of the essays, but to my amazement, I was. Don't miss this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Thomas on December 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
You do not have to be Southern to appreciate how good Sullivan's writing is.

I'm not a GQ or Paris Review reader so I didn't know of Sullivan until I read a rave of this collection in the NYT Book Review. It was spot-on. The essays range from LOL funny (one about an MTV Real World "celebrity" milking his 15 minutes; one about trying to interview Axl Rose, but getting his childhood friend instead; and parts of the Bunny Wailer profile, esp about buying him great ganja) to jaw-dropping (animals are attacking humans like never before!) to tender (post-Katrina New Orleans interviews and observations; RIP Andrew Lytle and even... Michael Jackson).

I hope he sells so many books that he'll never have to rent his house to bad CW soaps again.
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