Pulphead: Book of the Week


Pulphead is by John Jeremiah Sullivan.  Among other one-of-a-kind essays the book contains my favorite essay on the complicated history of the American blues and its latter day appreciation.  When this essay originally was published in Harper’s I read it a half dozen times.  John doesn’t deride anyone in his examination (and some of the enthusiasts and capitalists of the blues might be easy targets); he’s just curious about the topic – how the music was formed in the first place, why it was forgotten, and why it was revived – and he goes deeper than anybody else I’ve read on the topic.  Plus, the dude can write sentences (something many scholars don’t do very well) better than most novelists.

There’s more to it than the blues piece.  You won’t find a range of topics covered more eloquently and thoughtfully and rigorously.  And beautifully.  Last week’s New York Times Book Review did a good job getting at it.

Here are a couple of interesting pieces, including some photographs from John’s current book tour through Mississippi and piece from GQ about how he finds his topics.


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