Pulphead (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Sullivan; House of Prayer No. 2 (Nan A. Talese) by Richard
Fans of kick-ass, can't-put-it-down nonfiction, take note: This event combines the funny, probing, insightful cultural musings of John Jeremiah Sullivan with the riveting Gothic-styled memoir of Mark Richard.
"Pulphead is upsettingly good. It’s the most inspired book of essays since David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. John Jeremiah Sullivan perceives the world with so much original wit and energy that when I put this book down, the roll of duct tape on my desk suddenly seemed like it might be full of funny secrets. I'm grateful that Sullivan is doing such outlandishly brilliant, enlivening stuff." —Wells Tower
"Read Richard's amazing memoir House of Prayer No. 2 -- read it as soon as you can, you'll barrel through it -- and you'll know after just two pages of his effortlessly killer prose that he's special all right ... Narrating, mostly, through the best use of second-person urgency since Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, he describes being a disc jockey, a deckhand, a private eye, a ditchdigger. The man can tell a full story in the flick of a phrase ... Hallelujah. A" —Entertainment Weekly
John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. He has written for GQ, Harper’s Magazine, and Oxford American, and is the author of Blood Horses. He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award, two National Magazine Awards for feature writing, and a Pushcart Prize. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he currently lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife and two daughters and, most weeks, his wife’s entire family.
Mark Richard is the author of two award-winning short story collections, The Ice at the Bottom of the World and Charity, and the novel Fishboy. His short stories and journalism have appeared in a number of publications, including the New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Vogue, GQ, the Paris Review, Vogue, and The Oxford American. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Foundation Writer’s Award, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He has been visiting writer in residence at Texas Tech University, the University of California Irvine, Arizona State University, the University of Mississippi, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, and the Writer’s Voice in New York. His television credits include Party of Five, Chicago Hope, and Huff, and movies for CBS, Showtime, and Turner Network Television. He is the screenwriter of the film Stop-Loss. Richard is a lecturer at the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jennifer Allen and their three sons.
Photo of Sullivan (left) by John Taylor. Photo of Richard by Jeff Vespa.
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.
In a superbly written and irresistible blend of history, travelogue, and personal reflection, Richard tells the story of "his" American South, with its heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor--and of how writing helped him find his way in the world.