In his native Ken...more
John Jeremiah Sullivan is a free-lance writer whose work has appeared in GQ, The Paris Review and Harper’s Magazine. Pulphead gathers a diverse assortment of essays on various topics—each told with a generous consideration of the personalities involved, nothing harsh or mean-spirited. Sullivan has gentle, easy-going flow as if listening to a friend. Good stuff. Entries preceded by a √ might be of interest to those musically inclined or with an interest in music.
√ Upon this Rock—A fond recollecti...more
As with any collection of essays, there are a few duds in this collection. Sullivan's pieces on Axl Rose and on Michael Jackson s...more
One measure of a non-fiction book could be what it makes you go and do. After (or during) this one I was looking up Native American cave paintings in Tennessee, downloading Joe Higgs’ Life of Contradiction, listening to Billie Jean and contemplating Disney’s attempts at whitewashed utopia. The book is full of fascinating e...more
It’s always a good sign when you’re reading a piece of non-fiction to find yourself adding titles that the writer mentions to your Amazon wish-list. Or when you realise that there’s a whole subject area that you could just do with reading around more in general (in my case, Disney and – bizarrely – the Blues).
This is a rich, thoughtful immersion in a choice spread of subjects including pop culture, history, politics, environment and music. Oh, and one sort of (very promising) semi-SF riff. I’m...more
What I like most about this guy is that he isn't a sarcastic, cynical prick. After having just read a few stories by George Saunders, I appreciate this fact and Sullivan even more.
(From the first essay...more
He doesn't like journalists who give a clear judgement, he says he 'likes seeking out places of ambiguity and crawling around in them'....more
It turns out...more
Halfway through, however, he lost me. The last 3 essays were no longer exercises in nar...more
In the best ones, Sullivan gets deeply personal, demonstrating the empathy and humanity that lifts these pieces above your standard weird-American-culture fare. This is evident from the first essay, "Upon This Rock," about his trip to a Christian rock festival. And anyone who can write about a Tea Party rally with care, without ridicule, as he m...more
I first encountered Sullivan (at least to my knowledge) last year when I read a piece that he wrote for the NY Times Magazine about going to Disney World with his young daughter and some friends (read it at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/mag...). It is a very funny piece. Also, after hearing about this book, I checked him out further and found a review he wro...more
7 May 2012: Hard for me to understand any negativity about this book as a whole. I am more than half way through it and the only subjects Mr. Sullivan has failed to interest me in has been Axl Rose and the fellow Miz and The Real World. I would think my disinterest in these two similarly juvenile subjects has something to do with my advanced age thou...more
I found Pulphead on the Guardian's "Best Books of 2011" list and I was itching for something new to read. The review pimped it out as being analogous to David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again." To be fair, this pushed my expectations a little high because almost nothing except, perhaps, Hunter Thompson's "The Great Shark Hunt" com...more
He writes in the traditi...more
Es ist ein hervorragendes Werk, das einem Ausländer wie mir einen wunderbaren Einblick gibt, in die Amerikanische Welt des Irrsinns der dortigen Gegenwart und Kultur. Der Autor schreibt perfekt über diejenigen Details, die nicht in den umfangreichen Werken und Zeitungsartikeln des, von mir einfach mal so genannten "Mainstream-Journalismus" zu finden sind.
Der Autor schreibt sehr abwechslungsreich, kl...more
The pluses: sharply crafted prose. A sly wit. (I laughed out loud more than once.) A remarkable sense of observation. An appreciative sense of awe and —often —a graceful lack of cynicism. Some of the essays strike emotional chords that are refreshingly earnest, almost naive, in the very best way. I bet I'll remember the story about Mr. Sullivan's brother ("Feet in Smoke") for years.
The not-so-muches: the magazine-so...more
To be completely honest with you, despite Mr Sullivan being a regular contributor of excellent papers such as 'The Paris Review' and 'The New York Times' for a number of years, his name was unknown to me til a few months ago. My apologies for that, John Jeremiah.
It took a score of praising reviews for 'Pulphead' I spotted here (thank you, Kinga) and there (thank you, Guardian and Independent) to make m...more
Sullivan's first book, Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son, was published in 2004. It is part personal reminiscence, part elegy for his father, and part investigation into the history and cul...more