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The Happiest Man in the World: An Account of the Life of Poppa Neutrino
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The Happiest Man in the World: An Account of the Life of Poppa Neutrino

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The Happiest Man in the World buoyantly describes seventy-four-year-old David Pearlman, a restless and migratory soul, a mariner, a musician, a member of the Explorers Club and a friend of the San Francisco Beats, a former preacher and sign painter, a polymath, a pauper, and a football strategist for the Red Mesa Redskins of the Navajo Nation. When Pearlman was fifty, he w ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Random House (first published 2007)
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Apr 02, 2008 Christine rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Huck Finn
Shelves: non-fiction
Poppa Neutrino is a 74 year old man who has lived one of the most varied and interesting lifes ever put to paper. A drifter, artist, singer, creator of football plays, friend to dogs, and most importantly - in his mind, at least - a sailor. This book focuses on Poppa's aquatic quests to sail across various oceans in nothing more than a raft made out of found wood and gathered objects. The amazing thing is, his quests are successful.

I had mixed feelings about this book. The author hung out with
Ariel Plath
Nov 27, 2016 Ariel Plath rated it it was ok
What could have been a fascinating read was plagued by a style of erratic and unclear presentation. Loved the idea of the book but was not a fan of the execution.
Apr 30, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like getting book recommendations
I was disappointed in reading The Happiest Man in the World to learn that it was not about me.

I have felt certain, for some years now, that I have been followed off and on by a writer from the New Yorker who has been clandestinely observing and recording my life so that he could later filter it into gripping, affecting prose that would convincingly illuminate my unassuming, humble happiness.

Instead, Alec Wilkinson had been tailing one David Pearlman, or Poppa Neutrino.

And for the better. This co
Andrea Balfour
Sep 01, 2015 Andrea Balfour rated it really liked it
This was an unexpected find, just something I picked up at the library and thought I'd give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Poppa Neutrino is a self named man in his seventies whose claims to fame include being free of conventional lifestyles, taking the 1st voyage across the Atlantic in a raft made of all found materials, leading a travelling troop of sign painters, creating a groundbreaking new football play, heading a band under his namesake, and attempting a raft voyage across the Paci ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sam by: Josh Waldman
I thoroughly enjoyed this account - a wide-ranging walk through the character of Poppa Neutrino. My favorite line was how no matter how wild and crazy the story from Neutrino, the corroborating tales the author heard from participants were much wilder - hence his willingness to take Neutrino's tales at face value.

One interesting cornerstone of Poppa's homespun philosophy was his focus on triads - decision sets with three variables. Those of you with a deeper investment in the classics of western
May 31, 2007 heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: wanderers, dreamers and writers in general
i'll let you all in on a little secret: i really enjoyed alec wilkinson's visit to class. i wished i could have him edit one of my pieces as brutally as he did my classmates. i enjoyed hearing him read, too. i like his writing in the new yorker. i loved hearing him read excerpts from this book (which was not yet published), and the entire book lived up to my expectations.

a man chooses to wander for his entire life, and build rafts to sail the oceans. modern day. poppa neutrino's life is fascina
Oct 26, 2007 lia rated it liked it
It's a story about a man who builds busted weird rafts and sails them across oceans without dying in the process, but it's also about this football formation that he invents. I like the raft part, and the stories about his family vagabonding all over the country and into Mexico, singing for their supper and painting signs for cash..the football part I could do without. The man himself is fascinating in a car wreck kind of way, but the writer somehow manages to put too much of himself into the st ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Erin rated it it was amazing
I sped through this book like as if I was riding a serious gale. Poppa Neutrino is even more fascinating than I imagined, and sweet and vulnerable too. A story of a genius oddball and his adventured, I just swallowed this book like the whale did to Jonah. My only criticism is that at times the author Wilkinson does insert his POV a little heavy-handedly interupting the thrust of the story. Perhpas some of his insights should have been left for a chapter at the end or perhaps an afterword. Love y ...more
Leah Brine
I really enjoyed this book and felt sad when I finished reading it as I wanted to hear more Poppa's adventures.
The story of his life is captivating and the adventures he has and his way of life is spontaneous and fascinating.
However I did become less enthusiastic with the long chapters about the football play he was teaching all the football teams. It's just something I don't find very interesting but after I dragged my feet through those long long chapters the book picked up again :)
Feb 27, 2009 Noah rated it it was ok
The story of Neutrino's life is full of adventure and eccentricity, but throughout the book, it feels like Wilkinson is grasping for a larger theme and failing to find one. At the end of this book, I don't feel like I learned anything new about Neutrino as a person, or what his experience means for anything else. I don't necessarily blame Wilkinson for that, because his subject is particularly inscrutable, but it left me underwhelmed.
Apr 09, 2014 Wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite easily one of the best books I have ever read! Highly, highly recommended.
Beautifully written, framed with perspective, yet unbiased. Always captivating and always revealing something valuable.
Though at times remarkable to the point of being unbelievable, this biography is filled with truths and is food for the soul.
Mar 16, 2012 Wendy rated it it was ok
The only reason I made it through this entire book is because I took it on a plane with no other form of entertainment. It's an interesting tale of an interesting character. Most of the time I felt pity for him for wasting his life. I'm sure he'd feel the same about me, though. It has some great quotes though.
Jun 29, 2011 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
A bit too schizophrenic for me: "He did this, then he did this, oh then he went and did this again." I need more overarching ideas or narrative, though perhaps the structure of this book simply fits the man.
Jonathan Tennis
Dec 03, 2015 Jonathan Tennis rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at a book sale and opened it right away to begin reading. I thought it was a work of fiction at first because some of this stories are just that ridiculous. But it's real. Funny story about the crazy life of Poppa Neutrino.
Sep 10, 2011 Lucius rated it liked it
While there were certainly some slow points to this book, overall it's a fun read. Poppa Neutrino in a mixed protagonist. In some ways, I really respect him. In other ways, I just shake my head and marvel at his stubbornness.
Jun 10, 2009 Lyndon rated it liked it
Sympathetic biography of an American original. Had never heard of Poppa Neutrino before reading this book, notwithstanding the fact that he is the first person to have traversed the Atlantic by raft.
Charles Thiesen
Jan 07, 2011 Charles Thiesen rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and deep. Displays the character of a complex human being. Alec Wilkinson is a terrific writer. Papa Neutrino is an amazing human being.
Jess B Baclesse
Sep 21, 2009 Jess B Baclesse rated it it was ok
This is an interesting man who did interesting things. But there is a subtext that he probably did a lot of hurtful things yet that is never mentioned. A one side story.
Dec 29, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
a book about a guy that builds a raft out of trash and sails it across the atlantic ocean is, in my opinion, worth reading.
Sep 08, 2012 Heather rated it it was ok
Like a death march finishing this book ... well-written I suppose but I found Poppa Neutrino maddening and the pace was sooooo slow.
Antony James
Jun 25, 2013 Antony James rated it really liked it
v enjoyable account of the strange, inspirational, itinerant life of Poppa Neutrino - philosopher, raft-builder, American Football strategist, ocean voyager.
May 26, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
Very similar to Joseph Mitchell's 'Joe Gould's Secret'.....Anyone who enjoys sailing, football or characters should love it.
Oct 03, 2007 Ted rated it really liked it
this is about the guy who made a raft from scrap wood and junk and sailed it across the atlantic. his whole life was nuts it turns out. in a good way. i like this book
Ian rated it really liked it
Jul 02, 2013
Rob Neyer
Rob Neyer rated it really liked it
Nov 01, 2014
Tremain rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2012
Steven rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2011
Matthew rated it really liked it
May 14, 2009
Sharon rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2014
Joe Brown
Joe Brown rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2009
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