Austin's Reviews > Pulphead

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
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M 50x66
's review
May 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction

This collection contains essays of varying quality. There is at least one 5-star work in here, many 4-star, more still of the 3-star variety, and unfortunately a couple that were worse than that, so consider the rating an average across the board. It's hard not to compare any young, intelligent, funny, contemporary essayist to David Foster Wallace, and in the case of Sullivan this comparison is even more difficult to avoid (which is unfortunate as he is a very good writer standing in the shadow of a great one). Indeed, I wondered in places if he was struggling with that notion himself when choosing both topics and tone. When Sullivan hits a subject that genuinely excites him, however, he finds his own voice, and his keen intellect shines through. The breadth of topics covered is fairly remarkable, and it would be easy for a reader to enjoy one essay while being wildly ambivalent (if such a thing is possible) about others simply for lack of interest in the subject matter (as opposed to the aforementioned Mr. Wallace, who should be read at any opportunity independent of the topic). At the end of the day, I would still recommend this book fairly strongly to anyone who enjoys a fresh take on this crazy culture of ours.
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