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John Jeremiah Sullivan

Forfatter af Pulphead: Essays

9+ Værker 1,038 Medlemmer 33 Anmeldelser 1 Favorited

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Image credit: Description English: John Jeremiah Sullivan at the National Book Critics Circle Awards. Date 8 March 2012 Source Own work Author David Shankbone

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Associated Works

Absalom, Absalom! (1936) — Forord, nogle udgaver7,722 eksemplarer
State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (2008) — Bidragyder — 519 eksemplarer
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 (2012) — Bidragyder — 200 eksemplarer
The Best American Magazine Writing 2003 (2003) — Bidragyder — 71 eksemplarer
The Best American Magazine Writing 2006 (2006) — Bidragyder — 65 eksemplarer
The Best American Magazine Writing 2011 (2011) — Bidragyder — 36 eksemplarer
The Best American Magazine Writing 2012 (2012) — Bidragyder — 34 eksemplarer
The Paris Review 200 2012 Spring (2012) — Bidragyder — 27 eksemplarer
The Best American Magazine Writing 2015 (2015) — Bidragyder — 27 eksemplarer

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Oddly, I've already read two of the journalistic essays reprinted in this book, specifically one where the author attends a Christian rock festival and another where he tries his best to interview a very fickle Bunny Wailer.

Although I can't easily describe his writing style, Sullivan has a unique and highly intelligent voice. He mixes traditional reporting with personal reflection.

This book is critically acclaimed for good reason.
monicaberger | 29 andre anmeldelser | Jan 22, 2024 |
Short version: I didn't connect with any of these essays, I didn't get anything from them, and I didn't particularly enjoy them.

Long version: It's clear this is good writing. It's easy to read, there's a level of interest and thoughtfulness. I'm not saying it's bad, just that I wasn't into it. It seems like the author is using common experiences and background as a bridge to show the reader insights into new groups of people or experiences. The problem is I don't share any of that background and find it more alien than what we're looking at. Or no, now that I've said that, it feels false. Surely I've read a dozen books that fit this description, and loved them. Maybe it's just that I can't have this conversation about America without it being a dialogue.

Oddly, I enjoyed the essay on Axl Rose. Maybe because of the squatter I shared an attic with in Prague who had these great patchwork-leather skinny pants with the Guns 'n' Roses logo on the ass, and I remember whistling Patience together while we watched the sunrise.

But look, I never had a Jesus phase, I wasn't the naughty kid in a small town slumming on the wrong side of the tracks, I couldn't have a close relationship with a cousin running a tea-bagger parade, and I sure as shit couldn't daily ignore the racist ramblings of an old man because he was a 'great writer' who longed for the old South. It's probably good for me to see inside the head of someone so different from me, but this is just not the right window.
… (mere)
Kiramke | 29 andre anmeldelser | Jun 27, 2023 |
Pulphead is more of a 3.5-3.75 star book than a 4 star, but the rating system will not allow me to award partial stars so I'm rounding up.

I found Pulphead on the Guardian's "Best Books of 2011" list and I was itching for something new to read. The review pimped it out as being analogous to David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again." To be fair, this pushed my expectations a little high because almost nothing except, perhaps, Hunter Thompson's "The Great Shark Hunt" comes close to the above essay about going to a huge commercial luxury cruise (no Mr. Pibb!) but I found essays to enjoy in Pulphead anyway.

No collection of essays is ever completely even or completely excellent. Here, we find three essays worth the price of admission:

- The Axl Rose retrospective about old, fat, no longer touring with Guns N Roses but pretending to tour with Guns N Roses Axl Rose and his original home town in Indiana. The essay is pure Fiasco RPG fodder. And hilarious while, at the same time, horrifying beyond words.

- The essay about Michael Jackson wanting to break away from the Jackson 5 and strike out on his own away from the controlling interests of Motown. Excellent focus on his relationship with his sister Janet and brother Randy, the winning of Grammys for Off the Wall, his obsession with his nose, and the NBC broadcast where Jackson first performed "Billie Jean" and did the Moonwalk.

- The tale of going to the Christian Rock festival and the hollowness of Christian Rock. Opens with a great story about renting an enormous RV (but just enormous enough), the weird tensions between different groups of Christian Fundamentalists, and the limpness of the music they all came to hear.

A few other essays, the one about renting his house out to a TV show on the CW, the story of the Rastafarians in Jamaica and story of the caves in Tennessee are all interesting but not as good as the above three. And like all other essay collections, the rest are mostly filler. Sullivan is at his best when he is writing about music, and decent when he is writing about something other than himself, but when he starts to inject himself into the narrative things tend to go a little off the tracks.

Pulphead is a good, enjoyable, breezy read. Except for the retrospective on Axl Rose, none of the essays really linger. They aren't thick, meaty longreads. These aren't the sort of essays you roll around in your head for days and pick apart and analyze and then go argue with people on the Internet. I don't put Pulphead anywhere near the same level as David Foster Wallace. They're good and fun but, for the most part, light reads.
… (mere)
1 stem
multiplexer | 29 andre anmeldelser | Jun 20, 2021 |
After seeing Flavorwire’s List of 10 Contemporary American Essayists You Should Be Reading Right Now, I added “Pulphead” to my ever growing list of things to read.

The opening essay, and my personal favourite, entitled “Upon This Rock,” chronicles Sullivan’s assignment to report on a Christian music festival. He ends up attending Creation Fest, the largest Christian music festival in the US, which is held in Pennsylvania. Sullivan is given a rental RV, a massive hulking vehicle which nearly tips over as he attempts to park in the assigned slot, and is instead rerouted to an open field, where he meets a couple of West Virginians named Ritter and Bub. Upon hearing a performance by Petra, Sullivan was reminded of his teenage years, when he was undergoing a white, middle class American bout with evangelicalism, what he calls “an experience commonly linked to the teens and moved beyond before one reaches twenty” (32), prompting a reflection on his youthful faith, of the “passionate engagement” of young Christians who “went at the Bible with grad-seminar intensity” (27). In the end, he writes of the men he met at Creation, “it may be the truest thing I will have written here: they were crazy, and they loved God — and I thought about the unimpeachable dignity of that, which I never was capable of” (40). As someone who grew up within an ethnic Christianity far removed from the political maneuverings of what passes for mainstream Christianity today, I found that both fair and poignant. I had the same feelings towards the other essay that most interested me — “Unnamed Caves,” which described Sullivan’s descent into a culture of another type — ancient American caverns which encase paintings from Native Americans of hundreds of years ago. He writes of his visits to the many caves in Tennessee and the South, of the looting and the trade of relics amongst those who live there now, of the lost treasures and and cultural histories, of paintings that depict stories and religions long lost and never to be known.

I haven’t read much in the way of essay collections although I do my fair share of collecting articles from the NY Times, The Atlantic, and whatever else is mentioned on ALdaily. I enjoyed this collection of essays, although the ones I discussed above were topically more interesting to me than others. Still, the writing is excellent, and the topics varied enough that many readers will find at least one essay that piques their interest.
… (mere)
resoundingjoy | 29 andre anmeldelser | Jan 1, 2021 |



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