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Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side of America Paperback – 2 Aug 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099572354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099572350
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"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

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kennedy on 23 April 2012
Format: Paperback
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 By Greenish on 14 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback
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 By Andrew Dunn on 10 Aug 2012
Format: Paperback
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 By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Aug 2012
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 By s k on 24 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
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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