James Wood: Is John Jeremiah Sullivan the Best Essayist Alive?
New Yorker literary critic James Wood isn't the first to wonder if John Jeremiah Sullivan is the best essayist in the world, but he manages to top the praise. Reviewing Sullivan's new book, Pulphead, Wood compares Sullivan to Tom Wolfe, David Foster Wallace and Joan Didion, and suggests maybe in some ways he's better than all of them. "Unlike Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion, who bring their famous styles along with them like well-set, just-done hair, Sullivan lets his subjects muss and alter his prose; he works like a novelist." Sullivan is a master of using the nonfiction essay as an escape from the novel, and his kind eye to his subjects makes him a thrill to read.