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The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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It should come as no surprise that The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature is the inaugural title from McSweeney's Books, the publishing arm of Dave Eggers's literary quarterly McSweeney's. There appears to be two Neal Pollacks at work in the literary world. There's the legendary award-winning writer who has covered such global crises as the Spanish Civil War and 1999's "Battle in Seattle"; who has been married multiple times and romantically linked to Lara Flynn Boyle and Zadie Smith; and who counts Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Utah Jazz's Karl Malone among his closest friends. Then there's the real Neal Pollack, the young writer responsible for this comical tribute to the hard-drinking, fistfighting, wounded White Male egos behind the banged-up typewriters of first-person journalism. The high jinks begin in the table of contents, with such bloated chapter headings as "The Burden of Internet Celebrity" and "Why Am I So Handsome?"--hinting at what's to come. There's a detailed chronology included ("1959: Goes to Hollywood. Blacklisted.") and a nifty Zelig-like collection of photographs capturing Pollack (shirtless, more often than not, in his khaki photojournalist vest and aviator shades) yachting with J.F.K.; posing with a mud-caked platoon in Vietnam; and tuxedoed, escorting Mia Farrow to Truman Capote's Black and White Ball. Highlights include a transcript of Pollack's surprise appearance during a 1996 taping of Oprah's "other favorite author," Toni Morrison, where he offers this nugget to readers: "Oprah expanded my readership like no television program ever; not even my brief stint on Laugh-In gave me such wide exposure to Ma and Pa United States." Despite the one-joke tone of this slim volume, Pollack's clever wit prevails throughout, leaving a highly entertaining satire in its wake. --Brad Thomas Parsons
I know first-hand that Neal is the most arrogant, evil-minded, and potentially dangerous figure in American journalism today. -- Jann Wenner
Neal Pollack sticks his fantastic, custom-made ponyskin cowboy boot into the big rectum of every first person journalist. -- Matt Klam
One of the greatest satires of authorial vanity to come along since the actual career of Norman Mailer. -- Rolling Stone
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Thank you, Father.
"Recently, as I entertained a variety of friends and acquaintances (many of whom are employed in publishing and the arts), at my modest yet comfortable summer estate in Malta, it occurred to me that I am almost definitely the greatest writer of my time. I strained to think of others who could challenge my position, but they were too provincial,too tweedy, or too dead. No. I towered above the corroded wreckage that is American letters."
he exquisitely violates every level of literary sense - his leads are so bad theyre classic, his metaphors so tired they "glisten like a glistening jewel" -- this book not only makes me howl when i see vanity fair, or gore vidal, or norman mailer or oliver stone, or a couple of local friends anymore, it makes me nervous about including myself in my own writing - and best of all if one were to strip the style convention from the 'tome' the stories are roaringly ridiculous - this book accomplishes everything bret easton ellis tries to do - without all the posing
Many critics have argued that Pollack's joke was too narrow to warrant the number of pages contained in this modest sized volume. While it is true that some of the parodies are not as funny as others, the book remains, diverse, interesting, and consistently funny. In "The Albania of My Existence", Pollack (clearly imitating Sebastian Junger) discusses what war torn Albania means to his identity and his accomplishments. In "I Am Friends with a Working Class Black Woman" he mirrors countless White guys who believe they are cool enough to understand and to be accepted by poor black people. In "It is Easy to Take a Love in Cuba", Pollack... well, you get the idea. This book is hilarious. It strips egotistical, White male authors and puts them on display. There is no reason why we can't enjoy the writing of some of those authors and also enjoy the skillful manner in which Pollack roasts them.
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This is really post-graduate level humor.
The myth of the Great White Author is fertile ground. He's the king of snarky, needle-sharp pokes.Read more