Pulphead Essays

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As he approached the festival, waiting in a line of cars, he watched a woman lean out of an orange Datsun.

She “blew a long, clear note on a ram’s horn.” (MORE: Read Lev Grossman on the new Charles Dickens biography) Three things I want to say about that.

(This memory made Darius laugh so hard he removed his glasses.) Half of their childhood friends had been murdered—shot or stabbed over drugs or nothing. Sullivan, who is thirty-seven, and whose pieces have appeared in places like in the past decade, has been compared to Tom Wolfe and David Foster Wallace.

But he is kinder than the former, and less neurotic than the latter (whose own compassionate sensitivity got blocked by obsessive self-consciousness, or, when unblocked, sometimes emerged as outright sentimentality).

It’s also not published with anything like the gravitas JJS has earned. Though DFW might be a better comparison, actually, except that JJS isn’t quite as clever as DFW (who is?

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The title is too faux-cool (as is the flap copy—in my experience anything billed as “mind-bending” won’t actually bend your mind). ), and on the plus side, he never makes the mistake of taking himself too seriously. Maybe that’s the key to JJS: he’s a man who happens to have been born in trivial times, and he meets a lot of trivial people, but he treats it all so very, very seriously.One, it’s incredible that some lady played a ram’s horn right in front of JJS as he arrived at Creation, but what makes that detail work, and what makes this an essay — and not, say, a tweet — is the orange Datsun; most writers, in their eagerness to get to the horn, would have skipped the Datsun. And — and I’m sorry to go on and on — twenty-three pages into this essay, which is a blisteringly fast 40-page read, JJS finds a new gear and pulls the rug out from under us with a personal revelation that throws everything that came before, and that comes after, into a completely new light.Two, rather than simply stunning us with this detail, JJS has the characteristic grace to tell us that he, too, was stunned by the horn. Third thing: you can absorb all of the above, RV included, in a single two-page spread of (pp 8-9). (JJS would never mix three metaphors like that in one sentence, but you get what I mean.) There are other writers (not many) who are as funny as JJS, and others (even fewer) as smart, but those writers tend to use humor and smarts as defenses.Actually, all are the opening sentences of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan, from his second book, “Pulphead” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; ).It is obvious enough that they are by a talented storyteller, who has learned from fiction (as well as from the essayistic tradition) how to structure and ration his narratives. So good was it, I thought, that when picked its favorite long-form essays of the week, mine would be among them. After I read his DFW essay, I made it my business to become something of a JJS scholar. I did this partly because I enjoyed reading his work, but also so I could bite his style more effectively. Even more galling, they had included and it was by John Jeremiah Sullivan. JJS, as I have come to think of him, may be the best essayist of his generation.Such moments occur again and again in Sullivan’s work.In the same essay, he mentions his father, who is shocked into life by a brief bolt of story: “My father was a great Mark Twain fanatic—he got fired from the only teaching job he ever held for keeping the first graders in at recess, to make them listen to records of an actor reading the master’s works.” In “Mr. still faintly curled from having been rolled through the heavy typewriter.” He notices that Lytle’s equally aged sister has hands whose knuckles are “cubed with arthritis.” Lytle himself sags so exaggeratedly into the sofa, “it was as if thieves had crept through and stolen his bones and left him there.”Sullivan has a very good eye—he memorably describes the Virgin Group tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, as “that weird and whispery mogul-faun, Sir Richard”—and ears pricked for eventuality.“Violence of the Lambs,” the book’s weakest entry, which is about animal-on-human attacks, comes with another rug-pulling stunt at the end, but it’s the kind that just makes you say “hey, asshole, I want my rug back! He’s not exactly a national secret — he’s already won two National Magazine Awards, among other things, and he’s not yet 40.” The collection is not as cohesive as it wants to be, which is to say that it’s not cohesive at all, and it shouldn’t pretend to be, even a little. But he’s the closest thing we have right now to Tom Wolfe, and that includes Tom Wolfe.

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  • Pulphead - Wikipedia
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    Pulphead is an essay collection by the American writer and editor John Jeremiah Sullivan. Pulphead has been named a 2011 New York Times Notable Book, 1 a Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2011, 2 and one of Amazon 's Best of the Month for November 2011.…

  • Pulphead Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan - Books on Google Play
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    Account Options. Pulphead Essays. 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 nonfiction world. In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture.…

  • Pulphead Essays John Jeremiah Sullivan 9780374532901 Books
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    Pulphead is a big and sustaining pile of--as I've heard it put about certain people's fried chicken--crunchy goodness. What's impressive about Pulphead is the way these disparate essays cohere into a memoirlike whole. The putty that binds them together is Mr. Sullivan's steady and unhurried voice.…

  • Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan - Goodreads
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    Pulphead gathers a diverse assortment of essays on various topics—each told with a generous consideration of the personalities involved, nothing harsh or.…

  • Pulphead Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan 9780374532901
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    Book Summary The title of this book is Pulphead and it was written by John Jeremiah Sullivan. This particular edition is in a Paperback format. This books publish date is Oct 25, 2011 and it has a suggested retail price of $16.00. It was published by FSG Originals and has a total of 369 pages in the book.…

  • Pulphead Essays John Jeremiah Sullivan 9780374532901.
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    Pulphead Essays John Jeremiah Sullivan on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Named A Best Book of 2011 by the New York Times, Time.…

  • The Millions Pulphead Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan
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    It’s a book of essays called Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan, a young writer I had never read this is only his second book. The essays originally appeared in substantially different form in GQ, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Oxford American, and Ecotone. As that roster implies, Sullivan’s range is vast.…

  • Pulphead,' by John Jeremiah Sullivan — Review - The New.
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    In “Pulphead,” John Jeremiah Sullivan's essays about American culture and his more personal reflections cohere into a memoirlike whole.…

  • Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan -
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    Pulphead gathers a diverse assortment of essays on various topics—each told with a generous consideration of the personalities involved, nothing harsh or mean-spirited. Sullivan has gentle, easy-going flow as if listening to a friend.…

  • Pulphead Essays -
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    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.…

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