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Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel Hardcover – September 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060527900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060527907
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,822,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest satiric bid for immortality (after The Neil Pollack Anthology of American Literature: The Collected Writings of Neal Pollack), humorist Pollack details the life of a famed rock critic named, predictably, Neal Pollack, and takes swipes at scores of legends along the way. Styled as a series of interviews by rival rock critic Paul St. Pierre, conducted after Pollack's untimely death, the novel charts the history of Neal, born Norbert Pollackovitz in 1941 Memphis, Tenn. Norbert's love for music is evident early on, and soon he and neighborhood pal Elvis Presley are making noise in town. When Elvis accidentally backs over Norbert's father with a truck, Norbert is on his own and is christened Neal Pollack by his pals; he soon flees town to discover the world. St. Pierre's progress in examining the life of the "grizzled monster" is slow until he visits Bob Dylan in Woodstock, N.Y. As Dylan tells it, he met Pollack in 1961, at Woody Guthrie's bedside. The incorrigible Pollack goes on to steal Joan Baez away from Dylan and then moves to Liverpool to become a star rock critic. By the mid-'70s, Pollack returns to Manhattan; Johnny Rotten, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and, later, Kurt Cobain make cameos. Saturated with original song lyrics and pop-up appearances by rock music's greatest legends, Pollack's novel has a swinging appeal. Not everyone will want to tune in for the author's manic tongue-in-cheek self-canonization-his kitchen-sink approach sometimes makes for garbled reading-but Spinal Tap fans and groupies everywhere will be delighted.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Billed as "a rock-'n'-roll novel"--"rock-'n'-roll-critic novel" is probably more accurate--Pollack's foray into fiction isn't that much of a leap from his fictitious essays written by his alter ego, the "Greatest Living American Writer," Neal Pollack (The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, 2002). In his first novel, he tells the story of a late, great rock critic also named Neal Pollack. Pollack, the character, was a self-destructive, prescient, loose cannon of a critic (not unlike Lester Bangs) who was discovered by Sam Phillips in 1951, several years before he discovered Elvis Presley. In fact, Pollack was instrumental in getting Elvis to Sun studios for his first recordings (later he wrote about Elvis in 'zines) and, it turns out, in launching the careers of Dylan, the Stones, Iggy Pop, and Kurt Cobain. Iconoclastic, sometimes hilarious, and always mean-spirited, Pollack (the novelist) spares no one in his satirical jeremiad aimed at popular music and the critics who take it so seriously. Benjamin Segedin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Neal Pollack (born March 1, 1970) is an American satirist, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. He lives in Austin, Texas. Pollack has written eight books: The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, Never Mind the Pollacks, Beneath the Axis of Evil, Alternadad, Stretch, Jewball, Downward-Facing Death, and Open Your Heart.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rachel E. Pollock on July 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Never Mind the Pollacks by Neal Pollack is alternately brilliant and trash, and if you are at all into the history of rock music, Thompsonian mania, sex, drugs, puking on shoes, f**king the establishment, riding the snake to the lake, and flipping birds or wearing sunglasses in every photograph ever taken of you, definitely read this book.

At the very least it's good for some seriously hard laughs, and even when he fails at what he's doing, it's like seeing your favorite band play a bad show--you still get the gist of what he was going for, and as is true with rock-and-roll in general, you just can't be on all the time.

Now, i'm going to go puke up 8 martinis and pass out cold.

Note: I am no relation to Mr Pollack. My surname has two O's.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Finch on November 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rock and roll is the people's music and in Never Mind The Pollacks, A Rock And Roll Novel by Neal Pollack, Neal Pollack, the critic, bounces off the people who make the music to always hilarious and often pointed effect.
When he stops bouncing he usually finds himself down and out, yet luckily beneath the soft white underbelly of the holy cow of rock and roll, its teats thankfully there to squirt its rejuvenating fluids into Pollack's grateful face. That and he's watched over by the magic bluesman, Clambone, as enigmatic yet down to earth as the blues itself.
Pollack often seems oblivious to his journey through rock, while we are fortunate enough to enjoy the likes of Elvis, Iggy, Dylan, The Stones, et al as they pass through the zonked out haze that is Pollack's world. But hey, that world is rock and roll.
Don't think Pollack is some insignificant Forest Gump-like character batted around existence like one of Gump's ping-pong balls: Pollack is important enough that another rock critic wants to write his biography. And though it seems the lame and effete Paul St. Pierre may never truly grasp Pollack's importance or meaning to the world they both inhabit, a final face off with his subject gives him a double shot of the rock and roll life that Pollack has lived and St. Pierre has only written about from a distance.
But screw the analyses. If you like to rock and like to laugh you can do both of these things until it hurts. Plus there's an apocalypse at the end. And it's not just some damn high school blowing up or something.
So, I rate Never Mind The Pollacks #1. With a bullet.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Never Mind the Pollacks is just like every other sanctimonious book that tells the history of rock 'n' roll and why we're supposed to care, but with one significant difference: this one is actually entertaining. I read it straight through in the course of one very empty day, which, in retrospect, probably was not a great idea, as this is a thing to be savored, but I couldn't help myself. I tried, Lord how I tried, but I simply could not help myself. So, if you're the least bit interested in the history of rock, or just enjoy being amused, or like seeing various icons skewered with needle-sharp wit, or merely enjoy buying things, this is the book for you!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. Tontobreine on November 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Few writers sizzle my steak like Big Dave Eggers, and Neal Pollack's NEVER MIND THE PUPPETS, a life-size bio about Ecko Unltd. and his Bunnymen--sex-starved "garmentos" living, loving, walking, talking, and eating kasha knishes in midtown Manhattan--outdoes even the Great One. Pollack's premise is deceptively simple and dangerously polemical: does the good boy from Winnetka go with his feelings and Rock On to the big town of Sault Ste. Marie, or does he stay home, put in his four sorry years at Winnetka State, and then inherit his father's money-lending operation? It may seem like a touching homage to the work of Sherwood Anderson, but in fact what we have here is the most searing examination of the values and desires articulated by that mantra "Sex, Drugs & A Rock Polishing Machine for your Tenth Birthday." Plus some of that Sherwood Anderson stuff, but more in the vein of "The Torrents of Spring" than "Winesburg, OH." At any rate, Pollack is definitely a man with a future announcing professional roller derby matches. The sport's louche chic and direct appeal to Bachman-Turner Overdrive fans probably will have the cultural critics standing and cheering sometime in the next two-three weeks. Hope Pollack hears the call.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Thorn on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Neal Pollack proves with this novel that he's at his best when working in the short form. The "Catching Up with Neal Pollack" and discussion questions are the funniest parts of the paperback edition. Pollack fails to mine his rich comic premise of its full potential. He doesn't explore the opportunities for genuinely inspired humor in any of the scenes he depicts, choosing instead to fall back on the same tired formula: Pollack parties with rock stars, says obnoxious but unfunny things, and vomiting ensues. This is just lazy writing, and the author is capable of much better when he's comfortable with the form in which he is operating. That said, I really liked the ending.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jim Kuenzer on January 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Is Neal Pollacks' "Never Mind the Pollacks" "weak"? Is it chock full of "potty humor"? Is it "dumb" or "self-indulgent"? Yes it is. But so's rock-n-roll and that's the point. Rock-n-roll isn't about wearing tweed jackets with leather elbow thingies, smoking a pipe and wondering about the Kantian ramifications of a literary piece. It's about sex and drugs and hollering while you're throwing bottles at The Man.
And so it goes that "Never Mind the Pollacks" isn't a Henry James-styled, let's all frolick in the solarium and wear lots of frilly stuff book about the frailty of the human condition. It's the sordid history of rock-n-roll and how one man, one drug addled, unbathed man, helped shape it. From witnessing his father die beneath the wheels of Elvis's truck to joining the Ramones (as Smokey) for their first gig to discovering Kurt Cobian under a bridge, this book takes us through the way the music was shaped (or mangled, as the case may be) and subsequently reviewed.
Also, it's one of the funniest books ever written.
If you're looking for sub-text and symbolism and a candidate for Oprah's book club, go somewhere else. But if you want the only book you can safely take with you to a Scorpions concert -- this is it.
Trust me: "Never Mind the Pollacks" is the loudest book you will ever read.
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