Southern-born rising star John Jeremiah Sullivan is not a traditional Very Important Essayist, and thank goodness for that. At 37, he's younger than Christopher Hitchens or Malcolm Gladwell, and his voice is much more fantastical, whether he's philosophizing about Michael Jackson's body or riffing on the ease of renting an RV for a Christian-rock festival. To read him is to feel very lucky just to follow him down his rabbit hole of choice.
Emphasis mine, because that description is what made me want to read the book. I've only read the first essay, which is about the author's journey to the Creation festival in a 29-foot RV.
I wish I had liked it more. Maybe I've begun to take this type of journalism for granted, or maybe I'm just getting old (the author is four years my junior), but the essay's outside-looking-in perspective felt like something I'd read before. I didn't learn anything about the foibles of Christians or Christian-rock fans, nor much about the mindset of the author. Until, that is, a nice "twist" of sorts -- the author's personal "born again" testimony and bluntly, if cryptically, stated reasons for leaving that behind, followed by a testament of what he does believe about God. His beliefs seem to be strangely heartfelt, if upsetting in their approach to revelation. I suspect he thinks we'll be impressed by his integrity. I'm not.
That doesn't mean I hated the essay. I may have enjoyed enough of it to keep reading Pulphead. Still, with all of the many accolades the book's received, I figure I'd be more excited.
Hey, I just googled to find out more about the book and discovered that the Creation essay is available online.
Edited by Christian, 24 February 2012 - 11:37 PM.