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Beneath the Axis of Evil: One Man's Journey into the Horrors of War Paperback – January 25, 2003
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Axis of Evil is funnier and more assured than his first book...Long live Neal Pollack. -- Johns Hopkins Journal of American Politics
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And that is precisely the point that I think Neal drives home in this work and his previous. The self-importance of writers and journalists regarding their place in society and in relation to their subjects. The sheer arrogance of it all. And the sensibility of the supposed infallibility of some authors who I would like to think have Jesse Jackson syndrome. That is, they keep going back to the all-star game year after year because of the public perception that they are stars long after they did anything to warrant that accolade and hence obscure and dimish the contributions of those that actually create something of worth and value.
Is Neal Pollack the man to actually make that object of excellence obscured by the Jesse Jacksons of the literary world. Well no, but he is the one to expose it all so delightfully to us and Beneath the Axis is just another cream pie in the face of this business at the Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum. But the intriguing thing about Neal Pollack is what we sense to be the potential to create something trancedental that we are all waiting for like the messaih. That is what keeps me engaged and waiting until the fall for his next novel.
But if he never does, no one will ever be disappointed because he always kept us entertained and laughing our ... off.
With Beneath the Axis of Evil, Neal Pollack proves that he is one of America's most underappreciated satirists. Pollack deftly leaps across international borders and over scowling bodyguards to record the months following the September 11 attacks and speak to the people who shaped that time.
For people who are new to Pollack's humor, this book provides a great, yet compact, introduction. Readers who enjoyed the author's first book will undoubtedly like this one, as Pollack gives a political spin to his unique (and unfortunately so) brand of humor. Mimicking the self-important news celebrities of the networks and national papers, Pollack spends time in a jail cell with fellow dissidents Bill Maher and Susan Sontag, and secures exclusive, revealing interviews with the likes of Mohammed Omar and Saddam Hussein.
This book, whether because of its brevity or because of Pollack's evolution as a fiction writer, holds together better than his debut Anthology. Although he takes an ill-fitting interlude to poke fun at Jonathan Franzen, the rest of the book is nearly seamless, and the jokes never get stale. Beneath the Axis of Evil is a glimpse of Pollack at his best-full of piercing witticism and far-fetched, yet apt, associations. Any fan of satire-modern or classic-would be well-advised to pick this up, as it is timeless humor on a timely subject.
Beneath the Axis of Evil is a book. A book which is satisfying in a way that is usually reserved for carnal pleasures. Beneath the Axis of evil is also a snack. A tasty, sweet-n-salty mix of Pollack that you can toss back while standing in the kitchen at a Superbowl party; or when hiking, camping, or canoeing; or even for those long car rides, when the flat landscape drips in to parallel lines and you think that you can pretty safely read while driving.
It is for those times, and many more.
Personally, I find the book very convenient to pull out at moments when those around me become tedious and I can no longer tolerate their vapid blathering. I say, "excuse me, but I have lost interest in the conversation and am going to read Neal Pollack's excellent book, "Beneath the Axis of Evil" now. Please be slient." I have also taken "Beneath the Axis of Evil" out for a nice dinner, a glass of wine, and then allowed the work to take advantage of me on the way back to my apartment in the car.
It's that clever.
It beckons you now.