The writers John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead) and Geoff Dyer (Zona) recently met up in New York to discuss writing, Raising Arizona, and self-indulgence. The following is an edited transcript of their talk at 192 Books. John Jeremiah Sullivan: I’d like to begin by saying what an honor it is to talk with Geoff Dyer, a writer who has inspired me all my career. In fact there has been more than one occasion when an editor has expressed incomprehension at an idea I wanted to do, and I raised my fist and said, “It’s like you’ve never heard of Geoff Dyer!” Geoff Dyer: Well, I mean obviously it’s just awful at these events—it’s just two people slapping each other on the back. In John’s book—it’s not been published in Britain yet—and when it came to the round-up of the books of the year, inevitably everyone chose Claire Tomalin’s biography of Dickens as their book of the year, but I was so ahead of the curve. I chose this book of essays by this American guy, sort of, seven-eight months before it was even published in England. There is a problem being ahead of the curve—it can seem like you’re ‘round the bend. There’s this huge wave of expectation, and when you come to England, you’ll discover that nothing that happens can quite live up to that sense of expectation in the land of disappointment. So enjoy it now! Sullivan: Thank you for warning me. Well, I’d like to just talk a little bit about your new book, which I’ve been devouring in recent days.
John Jeremiah Sullivan's essay collection Pulphead ranges across America, from Christian rock festivals to Axl Rose, from unheralded blues musicians to the WB show "One Tree Hill." (TIME's Lev Grossman calls Sullivan the next Tom Wolfe: "JJS, as I have come to think of him, may be the best essayist of his generation.") Sullivan's book tour is taking him across the United States, during which he's posting photos on Tumblr. A few highlights: