Halfway through PULPHEAD.

by waxbanks

I bought a copy of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead for $4.95 at Rodney’s on Mass Ave — about what I’d’ve paid on Amazon, a feelgood price — all the while shaking my head about This guy’s not gonna be as good as everyone says. The back-cover blurbs are embarrassing: ‘Let it be known that…JJS has dropped a bomb on the American sentence,’ that sort of stupid later-on-you-scratch-mine circle jerking. All the while I’m thinking This doughy moodily-shot magazine guy with the extremely southern-sounding name is going to disappoint me. Almost hopefully.

I open to the first essay and maybe ninety minutes later I’m halfway through the book laughing aloud about once a page and saying things to my wife like ‘Holy fucking shit,’ feeling almost bad about noticing how he’s doughy, or the lighting makes him look that way. I think to myself What a talented young man, and he seems nice too. I’m laughing and gasping, and so the book turns out to be in a literal sense breathtaking, like it has actually taken away certain of my breaths.

Smaller game than DFW (who is mentioned in one of the three blurbs whose attribution includes the words ‘author of’) but a great big heart full to bursting with what my five-year-old has for half his life referred to as ‘big feelings.’