Pulphead: Notes From The Other Side Of America
- Publication Date:
- 02 August 2012
- Literary Essays
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Splendid essays -- insightful, well-researched, poignant and often funny as hell. Sullivan, who writes for GQ has an unmistakable voice with hints of Hunter S. Thompson, were that writer sober and less judgmental. The essays on the Tea Party, Andrew Lytle, a Christian Rock Festival and Axel Rose are bloody brilliant. Due to Sullivan's skill, I found myself deeply interested in subjects that, on first glance, I thought might not intrigue me. That's the mark of a wonderful writer.
John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead is an eclectic collection of essays that, once you start reading, you’ll find hard to put down. It doesn’t really matter what he is writing about—he has the ability to engage the reader even about subjects that would not otherwise seem interesting, such as Christian rock festivals, Indian cave paintings, or forgotten explorers. I did have a hard time really caring about the trials and tribulations of former stars of MTV’s Real World, however. Sullivan is a part of every essay he writes, sometimes in a very personal way as in his description of his time helping look after the aged Andrew Lytle or in the tale of Sullivan’s brother, who was electrocuted while rehearsing with his rock band—but miraculously recovered. Sullivan’s recounting of some of his brother’s obtuse remarks during the first month of his convalescence, before he regained his grasp of reality, is hysterical.Sullivan also has a way of bringing to life the characters he meets, such as a group of guys from West Virginia who are attending the Christian rock festival in Pennsylvania. In other essays, at a distance, he gives us a compelling portrait of the very much alive Axl Rose and of the very dead Michael Jackson. His heartfelt homage to Jackson’s abilities is very effective and had me reassessing my own feelings.Sullivan proves time and time again in this collection that a well-written essay can be as interesting and as compelling as any work of fiction. I look forward to reading more by this talented author.
As good as everyone says. Sullivan has empathy in spades and a natural curiosity that is genuinely contagious. A wonderful collection.
A collection of essays, all perceptive, which are variously enlightening, informative, scary and surprising, among other qualities. Sullivan is very good on music and musicians, even when his enthusiasms are antithetical to mine; his essays on scientific topics are revelatory.
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