JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVANTHE BOOKEVENTS

PULPHEAD NOTES

Sentences from John Jeremiah Sullivan's book Pulphead. Photography from the book tour.
  • April 3, 2012 4:17 pm

    An ASME Nomination

    Congrats to John Jeremiah Sullivan from all of us here at FSG: his New York Times Magazine piece “You Blow My Mind. Hey, Mickey!" has just been named a finalist for the 2012 National Magazine Awards (Feature Writing). Read the full list of finalists here.

  • February 14, 2012 7:27 am

    "That’s just a story we’re telling ourselves because we’re rich and bored from the Irish point of view, and that’s exactly how I would feel if I were Irish. At the same time do you really want to foreclose on the possibility that cultures might be transmitted across generations and that there might be something in tapping into that? I’ve been a passionate reader of Irish literature over my life, and I’d like to think that I read it more intensely because I felt as if I had some stock in it."

    A Brief Q&A with John Jeremiah Sullivan by the New York Times 6th Floor Blog

  • February 10, 2012 3:54 pm

    My Debt to Ireland

    Ireland starts for me with the end of “The Dead,” which my father read to me from his desk in his basement office in New Albany, Ind. I don’t remember what age I was — feels like it could have happened anytime between the 6th and 11th birthdays — but I picture the scene with a strange, time-slurred clarity of detail. His offices were always in the basement, because that’s where he could smoke his endless, extra-long menthols, exhaling nasally over the red mustache. I can smell it in his sweat when he bends down to kiss me goodbye, and I smell it in this room. I also note cat urine, because our vicious, lonely old calico, Skipper, tends to relieve herself on the dark green chair in the corner when stressed, and the scent has soaked into the stuffing, and my father won’t throw away the chair, because it belonged to his father. The mottled surface of the desk where he writes is dark green, almost black, and glowing green are the little letters on the screen of the primitive Tandy word processor the newspaper has given him, and an excellent forest green is the cover of “The Portable James Joyce,” my mother’s Penguin paperback from college. He’s holding it close to his face. He was blind in one eye and couldn’t see especially well out of the other, wore dark-framed, vaguely government-issue glasses, but they’re lowered, he’s turning his head and squinting over the top of them. He reads me the famous last paragraph, “The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward… .” Nothing of the actual language remained with me, except, years later, reading the story at school, there was something like déjà vu at the part where Joyce first says the snow was “falling faintly,” then four words later says it was, “faintly falling.” The slight overconspicuousness of that had stuck, as I suppose he intended.

    Read on at the New York Times Magazine

  • December 29, 2011 11:02 am

    On Reality TV

    A thing we know about reality TV is that it isn’t real, and death is as real as it gets, which makes for dissonance. The whole cat-and-mouse game — “Is it real or scripted?” — the slight anxiety of which provides maybe the main pleasure of reality TV, gets squashed by death as if by a giant’s foot, leaving you stunned and waiting for the episode in which they bring these people back. You almost can’t help registering the losses as themselves a failure of the genre, because like all entertainment genres, reality TV is largely designed to protect us from what’s real. When I learned that each of those people was dead, there was something — “shock of recognition” isn’t right. The effect was of having all the reality shows I’d ever watched pass before me, the way your own memories are said to do before your death, but now the scenes had taken on a strange and sickly cast.

    —”Reality-TV Stars,” New York Times Magazine