It’s not every day that a major and respected book publishing
house fronts the money for a rock album featuring such tracks as
“Memories of Times Square (The Dildo Song)” and “I Wipe My Ass on
Your Novel.”

Janna Hutz
Doing his impersonation of Schwarzenegger in “Predator.” (Courtesy of HarperCollins)

But for whatever business or insanity-driven reason, this is
exactly what HarperCollins did with Neal Pollack’s
novel-accompanying album The Neal Pollack Invasion: Never Mind
the Pollacks
, which was released on Sept. 30.

Pollack, best known for “The Neal Pollack Anthology of American
Literature,” has fully assumed the rock’n’roll lifestyle for his
current van-based album-cum-book tour. His rock-parody album
accompanies and springs from his third book and first novel, “Never
Mind the Pollacks,” a faux-interview collection chronicle of the
life of a famous rock critic, unsurprisingly named, of course, Neal
Pollack.

Pollack has taken his tour on the road and will be stopping in
Ann Arbor night for an unusual combination of public appearances:
first, a Shaman Drum book signing at 7 p.m., followed by a 9:30
performance at the Blind Pig.

This latest rock-critic premise – still characteristically
mock-ego driven – developed when Pollack began reading books on
rock criticism and found that “there’s a vast universe of cliches
to parody – very pretentious cliches, for that matter.” For anyone
familiar with Pollack’s earlier work, it’s easy to see how Pollack
– the self-described “guy who attempts to parody literary
pretension” – would think that this world of rock snootiness “just
seemed like a natural fit” for his own satiric brand of humor
writing.

Pollack, who in his spare time is developing a
“political-thriller about baseball” and has further back-burner
ideas for New York history and “angry young man” books, sees making
fun of egos – the niche in literary society that he has deftly
filled – as a “potential life’s work.”

But Pollack’s trappings of ego could not be further from his
real-life m.o. He maintains a web-blog at
“http://www.nealpollack.com”>www.nealpollack.com and continues
to answer almost all of his e-mails. When the “Anthology” came out,
the literary quarterly McSweeney’s assumed the financial burden of
printing the book but left the publicizing entirely jup to Pollack,
who used this situation as an opportunity take his book and himself
on the road and connect with the people.

There is a strong element to this grass-roots approach that
characterizes the current tour – despite his HarperCollins backing.
In words that could have easily come from the mouth of Michael
Moore, Pollack declared “I’m not going to let a corporate publisher
dictate how I run my career.” He has taken his burgeoning fame as
an opportunity to encourage both aspiring writers and rockers and
is committed to developing a literary culture in which more
established artists help kick-start younger artists’ careers.

Now, Pollack is no longer connected to McSweeney’s; he reasons
that he has had an “aesthetic split with [Dave] Eggers,” who has
“moved in a more gentile direction.” The two authors maintain what
Pollack calls a “friendly camaraderie” rather than an artistic
relationship. “I’m still interested in shaking things up,” said
Pollack – but we’ll be the judges of this success when the
“Invasion” invades Ann Arbor this evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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