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Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side of America

Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side of America [Kindle Edition]

John Jeremiah Sullivan
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £4.68 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


"The ghost of Mark Twain is evoked in this outstanding collection of essays" (Sunday Times)

"Pulphead is a big, fat, frequently exhilarating collection" (Guardian)

"Pulphead has a ramshackle loquacity, a down-home hyper-eloquence and an off-the-wallishness that is quite distinct - and highly addictive" (Goeff Dyer)

"The best, and most important collection of magazine writing since David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (New York Times Book Review)

"From prehistoric caves to Axl Rose's oxygen chamber, Sullivan's generous, witty voice lights up every page" (Joe Dunthorne)

Book Description

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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 770 KB
  • Print Length: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (2 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,642 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously great essayist 23 April 2012
By Kennedy
This is a brilliant collection of essays. The last time I was this overjoyed at discovering a writer was reading David foster wallace's Consider the Lobster, another collection I'd recommend in a heartbeat.

There are a couple profiles here - one on Michael Jackson, the other on W.Axl Rose - that I thought were just stupendous. The account of his weekend at a christian rock festival is one of the funniest, and most moving things I've read in a long time. And his description of a night out with a reality TV star is awesome.

This is a fantastic, humane, funny and wise book by a writer whose future work I greatly look forward to.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best non-fiction I've read in years. 14 Mar 2012
I must have recommended this book to half a dozen people already and I'm still reading it. I bought it on the strength of reading one of JJS's essays online, and the rest of the book has been even better than I expected. I didn't know what any of the other essays were about, and when I began reading some (most) of them, I kept thinking "I don't know anything about this subject, I don't know if I'm interested". But by the end of each one, not only was I interested in the subject, but I had about a million cool anecdotes about it to tell the next person I met about.

Seriously - this book is ace. I'll be sad when I've finished reading it. But I'll probably read it again in about six months, once it's come back from all the folks I have to lend it to in the meantime.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thrilling, cool and funny 10 Aug 2012
The best essay collection since David Foster Wallace's A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN. Like DFW, Sullivan is a midwesterner, and he is drawn to the underreported, the flyover subject. Whether it's cave art, a Christian Rock festival, the teenage skirmishes of Axl Rose or an obscure 19th century botanist, he makes it fascinating. Often very funny, Sullivan's voice is supple, smart, and occasionally engaged to the point of going gonzo (if you love Hunter S. Thompson then the opening essay in PULPHEAD will be swooping and screeching and diving right up your street).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch this space... 16 Aug 2012
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The brilliant writer Edward Docx raved about this book in the weekend press and I ordered it from Amazon straightaway.

I am only 11 pages in and I can tell just from the quality of the writing that this is going to be a great read.

Watch this space...

Update 1:

Pulphead is a series of essays by American journalist John Jeremiah Sullivan. In the first essay, "Upon This Rock", Sullivan travels 500 in a 29ft camper van (the journey is hilarious) to cover a Christian rock gathering called Creation. There is a certain style of writing that is unique to America: writing that wears its intelligence lightly and is therefore full of charm. And funny. Did I mention that? Very, very funny.

Update 2:

This is a short essay about a terrible accident that happens to the author's half-brother. It manages to be hugely touching without being remotely maudlin. No mean achievement.

Update 3:

Having now finished Pulphead, I felt that I had to reduce my rating to 4* because I thought that the subject matter of some of JJS's essays were a little esoteric for a UK audience, or to be more precise, for this reader. Having said that, I do think this guy's a great writer and even if you skip a couple of the essays, as I did, you'll still find plenty in it to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Engaging 24 Jan 2013
By s k
John Jeremiah Sullivan's Pulphead has been universally praised, which is strange, for collections of essays rarely get that much attention. But are they any good? Well, yes, they are, and the book deserves its laudatory notices. In reality, though, these verdicts are given in relief, as Sullivan proves the existence of authentic writers who don't want to jump on the novelist bandwagon (although he will undoubtedly go there). These points, however, shouldn't detract from the success of this book, for the essays are sophisticated and eloquent, funny and engaging, a veritable mishmash of the high and the low.

Whereas Martin Amis, in The Moronic Inferno (1986), came at America with the Englishman's ironic detachment, Sullivan, a proud Southerner, gets right in there with his fellow countrymen (and women). The opening essay, 'Upon This Rock', gives a fair representation of his modus operandi. The piece sees the author go to Creation, a Christian rock festival. It may be an easy target for satire, but Sullivan avoids this pitfall by empathising with the people he meets, people on 'fire for Christ'. That he admits to having had a '"Jesus phase"' himself only authenticates the openness and veracity of his approach: an honest journalist is no longer an oxymoron.

The other articles in this collection follow the autobiographical method. Sullivan, however, doesn't overwork the gonzo element and writes in a variety of different registers. The slangy piece on MTV's The Real World, 'Getting Down to What is Really Real', sees his voice morphing into that of its viewers, whereas the essay on Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, 'La*Hwi*Ne*Ski: Career of an Eccentric Naturalist', explores that strange polymath's career in a scholarly prose.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Husband raved about this book
Published 1 day ago by rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
I can only say one thing: I have never, ever read a better collection of essays. What a talented writer!
Published 3 months ago by D. Carter
2.0 out of 5 stars I gave up
I normally don't give up on books, but this was just too boring and insular to persist with. A slice of Americana you can do without.
Published 14 months ago by Stefan Carlberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting...
Well-balanced, fascinating and evenly paced.

Some particular insights I would have happily read more of, while only one or two felt a bit too long. Read more
Published 18 months ago by MCDee
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of journalism focusing on American popular...
'Pulphead' is a collection of long-form journalism by a well-established American journalist and editor. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Paul Bowes
2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting historical insights, but book lacked a purpose
Enjoyed some parts of the book and some interesting historical anecdotes . Generally, as a UK reader many of the cultural references were not mine and at times that made parts of... Read more
Published 19 months ago by rebecca yates
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody I've asked thinks this is great!
In amongst all the serious stuff about going on holiday, you have to mix in some fun, so when I saw this reviewed I thought it might make a suitable companion on my long-planned... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Steve Keen
5.0 out of 5 stars Mentioned in every conversation
There are a number of ways to judge the quality of a book. I think one must be how many times you bring it up in conversation. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Chris Cope
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