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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011

One of Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011

A Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2011

A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011

One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011

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. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us - with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that's all his own - how we really (no, really) live now. In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV's Real World, who've generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose, and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina and back again, as its residents confront the BP oil spill. Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we've never heard told this way. It's like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we've never imagined to be true. Of course we don't know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection - it's our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan's work.

©2011 John Jeremiah Sullivan (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

interesting and intelligent

This collection of stories was great. I really enjoyed the historical stories, as well as the more current ones. The writing was excellent; and unusually, the author was a good narrator. If you are looking for something different, try this out. The story on Geeshie Wiley was the best thing I have read all year.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Very enjoyable!

John writes interesting and with a great attention to detail and the fact that he reads his own work really helps to elevate his stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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One of the best books I've ever read

I think I've listen to it about four times now. I will probably go a few more times

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Cynical, warm, well researched

It's rare a piece of writing make one think new thoughts in a way these essays does.
Well read by the author, the perfect tone.

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Excellent, thoughtful essays

Beautifully crafted and thoughtful. I especially liked the essays on Jackson, Jah B and the one about the author's house being on a TV show. Listening to these essays made me want to write something myself.
I was occasionally put off my the author's emotionally charged voice, particularly for bits that did not call for it. But by the end of the book, it was either toned down or I got used to it.

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So Fucking Good

This is, I shit you not, the greatest collection of essays I've ever listen to. And I'm not like, Sullivan's brother, or editor, or something. I have never meet the guy. So try and understand that my use of hyperbole comes from a place of genuine admiration--although I realize I may be laying it on a little thick which might undermine the point I'm trying to make which is stop reading these review and buy this fucking book right now. Just for a point of reference I also enjoy essay collections by Rob Sheffield, Matt Taibbi, and Chuck Klosterman. So if you like those dude's work you will probably dig Sullivan. The only downside is that after listening to this collection you will want more essays like this and there really aren't any--although the previously mentioned authors come close. So my criticism for Sullivan is this: write more essays you fucker!