Pulphead: Essays

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Author
John Jeremiah Sullivan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-374-53290-1
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Paperback - 395 pages - 978-0-09-957235-0
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4481-1433-7
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4299-9504-7
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The age-old strangeness of American pop culture gets dissected with hilarious and revelatory precision in these scintillating essays. Whiting Award–winning critic and journalist Sullivan (Blood Horses) surveys 10,000 years of intriguing, inexplicable, and incorrigible socio-aesthetic phenomena, from the ancient Indian cave paintings of Tennessee (and their hillbilly admirers) to the takeover of his Wilmington, N.C., house by the teen soap opera One Tree Hill. Along the way he visits a Christian rock festival brimming with fellowship and frog-devouring savagery; witnesses the collapse of civilization in a post-Katrina gas line; hangs out in the professional-partying demimonde of MTV's RealWorld; marches with exuberant Tea Partiers; scouts the animal kingdom's gathering war on mankind; and traces the rise of rocker Axl Rose from his origins as a weedy adolescent punk in the small-town void of central Indiana. Sullivan views this landscape with love, horror, and fascination, finding the intricate intellectual substructures underlying the banalities, the graceful in the grotesque, the constellations of meaning that fans discern amid the random twinklings of stars. Sullivan writes an extraordinary prose that's stuffed with off-beat insight gleaned from rapt, appalled observations and suffused with a hang-dog charm. The result is an arresting take on the American imagination. (Nov.)
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