Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pg. 69: "Alternadad"

Neal Pollack is the author of several works of satirical fiction, including The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature and the novel Never Mind the Pollacks.

He is also, according to his publisher, "probably the least likely father you’ve ever met: a pop-culture-obsessed writer and self-styled party guy known mostly for outrageous literary antics. In typical fashion, he responded to the birth of his son by forming a mediocre rock band and taking it on tour. Now, in Alternadad, he tells the hilarious and poignant story of how he learned to be a father to his son, Elijah, after the failure of his short-lived rock ’n’ roll dreams."

Neal put Alternadad to the "page 69 test" and reported back:
On Page 69 of my memoir, Alternadad, I go out partying with a couple of random "fans" who I'd met on the Internet. Meanwhile, my wife Regina thinks she goes into labor, calling me at 3 AM to tell me to come home. At that moment, I'm in some kind of college apartment with posters of Jim Morrison on the wall, smoking a joint of hideous schwag. All the central themes of the book's first half are there: My social immaturity, my wife's slightly bossy henpeckiness, and the long, slow decline of my Neal Pollack "persona."

Meanwhile, Regina complains that "everyone" is having a baby but her. When I point out that not everyone is having a baby, she posits the counter-example of Sarah Jessica Parker, who had recently given birth. She concedes that Sarah Jessica Parker is not, in fact, everyone. This conversation is also representative of the rest of the book. Regina and I are part of a generation of adults that finds the whole concept of adulthood perplexing, even unreal. It's as though we're saying, "We can't be parents now, because we were once young." This is probably the same mishugas that parents go through every generation, but slap on an extra layer of irony and pop-cultural awareness and, voila, you have Alternadad.
Many thanks to Neal for the input.

Read one excerpt from Alternadad or another.

Among the praise for Alternadad:
“Both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-softly poignant. . . it just may be the most offbeat book about parenting ever written. . . makes the reader break out into smiles nearly constantly.”

“Engaging...Pollack is...America's postmodern Erma Bombeck.”
-–Texas Monthly

“Witty...Pollack hasn't lost his flair for tongue-in-cheek commentary.”
-–Publisher's Weekly

“Hilarious. . . [his son] Elijah is. . . a precocious child with the face of a Botticelli and the temperament of Dennis the Menace.”
-–Los Angeles Times

"Alternadad is peppered with the scary-funny one-liners we’ve come to expect from the intriguing American crank Neal Pollack. But it's also a surprisingly romantic tale of love and hope and even civic-minded warmth, set amidst the dingier blocks of Chicago and Austin and the trash-can fires of Philadelphia."
--Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation
Christopher Noxon reviewed Alternadad for the Los Angeles Times and Elissa Schappell reviewed it for the New York Times.

Pollack writes for publications including Slate, where you can read his articles about how the Phoenix Suns saved the NBA, how Lance Armstrong ruined his gym, why fans became obsessed with general managers, and what happens when you move to your team's hometown.

Meet Neal tomorrow in Chicago and on the West Coast at the end of the week.

Visit Neal's website.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Bella DePaulo, Singled Out
Steve Hamilton, A Stolen Season
Eric Klinenberg, Fighting for Air
Donna Moore, ...Go to Helena Handbasket
Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye
Neal Thompson, Riding with the Devil
Sherry Argov, Why Men Marry Bitches
P.J. Parrish, An Unquiet Grave
Tyler Knox, Kockroach
Andrew Rehfeld, The Concept of Constituency
Laura Wiess, Such a Pretty Girl
Jeremy Blachman, Anonymous Lawyer
Andrew Pyper, The Wildfire Season
Wendy Werris, An Alphabetical Life
Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Meghan Daum, The Quality of Life Report
Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin' Man
Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost
Paul Collins, The Trouble With Tom
John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet
Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero
Bill Crider, Murder Among the OWLS
Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens
Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Lawrence Light, Fear & Greed
Simon Read, In The Dark
Sandra Ruttan, Suspicious Circumstances
Henry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography
Alison Gaylin, You Kill Me
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue