Wednesday, July 18, 2012

18 July Pulphead

Pulphead, essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan

What a pleasure to read these essays! Sullivan enjoys both his research and the essay writing itself, it's clear.  His touch is so confident that the hours of work he spends on each are undetectable. You feel that you are sitting with a good friend and you both have plenty of time to talk and catch up with things.
The things Sullivan would tell his friend range from his experience at a Christian rock concert to his the time he spent living with the last of the Southern Agrarian writers, or maybe the explorations of Tennessee caves which contain cave art older than anyone would have expected.  He writes about Axl Rose and Michael Jackson, but also about little-known Blues musicians.
Each time I started an essay I wondered whether it would be a subject I would find interesting; I"m the last person to want to know about Rock music, but I was greatly moved by his biographical study of Michael Jackson. There are essays I have skimmed, because the subjects are just too far removed from my world, but they are only a very few.  These essays have been collected from his work for several fine magazines, among them Paris Review, GQ, Harper's. For awhile he was editor of the Oxford American, a splendid magazine which almost nobody apparently ever read.
Part of his charm as a writer is that he does not feel the need to glorify himself or his work.  Instead, he paints himself as a listener, a learner, someone who is "sceptically curious" as he has in one delightful piece. Pulphead fully deserves all the attention it is receiving, and I hope will be followed before long by another collection -- or anything else he should choose to write.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home