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Pulphead: Essays

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Pulphead: Essays Cover

ISBN13: 9780374532901
ISBN10: 0374532907
Condition: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

I love collections of essays. I almost always have one (or two or three) in a pile on my bedside table. But not since I first read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace have I loved a book of essays as much as I loved Pulphead. The subject matter ranges widely, but every essay is great. If you are my friend, you no longer have to wonder what I'm getting you for your next birthday.
Recommended by Adam P., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of Americas cultural landscape — from high to low to lower than low — by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world

In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us — with a laidback, erudite Southern charm thats all his own — how we really (no, really) live now.

In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTVs Real World, whove generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina — and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.

Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that weve never heard told this way. Its like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways weve never imagined to be true. Of course we dont know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection — its our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivans work.

Review:

"The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision in these scintillating essays. Whiting Award — winning critic and journalist Sullivan (Blood Horses) surveys 10,000 years of intriguing, inexplicable, and incorrigible socio-aesthetic phenomena, from the ancient Indian cave paintings of Tennessee (and their hillbilly admirers) to the takeover of his Wilmington, N.C., house by the teen soap opera One Tree Hill. Along the way he visits a Christian rock festival brimming with fellowship and frog-devouring savagery; witnesses the collapse of civilization in a post-Katrina gas line; hangs out in the professional-partying demimonde of MTV's RealWorld; marches with exuberant Tea Partiers; scouts the animal kingdom's gathering war on mankind; and traces the rise of rocker Axl Rose from his origins as a weedy adolescent punk in the small-town void of central Indiana. Sullivan views this landscape with love, horror, and fascination, finding the intricate intellectual substructures underlying the banalities, the graceful in the grotesque, the constellations of meaning that fans discern amid the random twinklings of stars. Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision...Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Review:

"Sullivans essays have won two National Magazine Awards, and here his omnivorous intellect analyzes Michael Jackson, Christian rock, post-Katrina New Orleans, Axl Rose and the obscure 19th century naturalist Constantine Rafinesque. His compulsive honesty and wildly intelligent prose recall the work of American masters of New Journalism like Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe." Time

Review:

"Sullivans essays stay with you, like good short stories...and like accomplished short fiction, they often will, over time, reveal a fuller meaning...Whether he ponders the legacy of a long-dead French scientist or the unlikely cultural trajectory of Christian rock, Sullivan imbues his narrative subjects with a broader urgency reminiscent of other great practitioners of the essay-profile, such as New Yorker writers Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling or Gay Talese during his 60s Esquire heyday ...[Pulphead] reinforces [Sullivan's] standing as among the best of his generations essayists." Bookforum

Review:

"The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision...Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing editor at Harpers Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. He is the winner of a Whiting Writers Award for emerging writers and a National Magazine Award for feature writing. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he currently lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Blood Horses (FSG, 2004).

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Katherine Stevens, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by Katherine Stevens)
Best book I read in 2012, hands down.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
anacoluthon, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by anacoluthon)
Inventively written and engaging essays on various species of American weirdness. Not quite as rich with personal voice as DFW's essays, not as charmingly eager to be liked as DFW, but still useful for filling the void left by his death.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Katherine Stevens, May 25, 2012 (view all comments by Katherine Stevens)
John Jeremiah Sullivan just has the friendliest, most interesting voice. Whether he's talking about the time his house was used as part of the set of One Tree Hill, a Christian music festival, North American cave art, or how animals may all gang up together one day to try to kill us, he is never boring. One of the top American essayists alive.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374532901
Subtitle:
Essays
Author:
Sullivan, John Jeremiah
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Popular Culture
Subject:
Anthologies-Essays
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20111031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
7.5 x 5 x 0.938 in

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Biography
Featured Titles » General
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Journalism » General
History and Social Science » Journalism » Journalists
History and Social Science » Social Science » Essays
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

Pulphead: Essays Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374532901 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I love collections of essays. I almost always have one (or two or three) in a pile on my bedside table. But not since I first read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace have I loved a book of essays as much as I loved Pulphead. The subject matter ranges widely, but every essay is great. If you are my friend, you no longer have to wonder what I'm getting you for your next birthday.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision in these scintillating essays. Whiting Award — winning critic and journalist Sullivan (Blood Horses) surveys 10,000 years of intriguing, inexplicable, and incorrigible socio-aesthetic phenomena, from the ancient Indian cave paintings of Tennessee (and their hillbilly admirers) to the takeover of his Wilmington, N.C., house by the teen soap opera One Tree Hill. Along the way he visits a Christian rock festival brimming with fellowship and frog-devouring savagery; witnesses the collapse of civilization in a post-Katrina gas line; hangs out in the professional-partying demimonde of MTV's RealWorld; marches with exuberant Tea Partiers; scouts the animal kingdom's gathering war on mankind; and traces the rise of rocker Axl Rose from his origins as a weedy adolescent punk in the small-town void of central Indiana. Sullivan views this landscape with love, horror, and fascination, finding the intricate intellectual substructures underlying the banalities, the graceful in the grotesque, the constellations of meaning that fans discern amid the random twinklings of stars. Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision...Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination."
"Review" by , "Sullivans essays have won two National Magazine Awards, and here his omnivorous intellect analyzes Michael Jackson, Christian rock, post-Katrina New Orleans, Axl Rose and the obscure 19th century naturalist Constantine Rafinesque. His compulsive honesty and wildly intelligent prose recall the work of American masters of New Journalism like Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe."
"Review" by , "Sullivans essays stay with you, like good short stories...and like accomplished short fiction, they often will, over time, reveal a fuller meaning...Whether he ponders the legacy of a long-dead French scientist or the unlikely cultural trajectory of Christian rock, Sullivan imbues his narrative subjects with a broader urgency reminiscent of other great practitioners of the essay-profile, such as New Yorker writers Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling or Gay Talese during his 60s Esquire heyday ...[Pulphead] reinforces [Sullivan's] standing as among the best of his generations essayists."
"Review" by , "The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision...Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination."
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