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April 09, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-09

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A John Saytes Film..
1984's 'The Brother From
Another Planet' comes to
the Michigan Theater. 7 p.m.



APRIL 9, 2002


Neal Pollack admits his new
novel is funniest of the year




Saxophone legend
Shorter set brings
jazz to Ann Arbor


By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
The literary defense system has been threatened
at the seams as of late by the sprouting army of
like-but unlike, casually ironic and completely
satirical brains working out of a central location
somewhere in the McSweeney's compound.
Neal Pollack is one such brain. His first novel
"The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Litera-
ture" satirizes itself, while satirizing
satire all woven through slew of
short stories.
The book, Pollack's first (although 7NEALhecl
im ohv rte cd fbooks in the Introduction, including a JIM
version of the Bible which was later
adapted into a Tony-winning musical At the
called "Neal Pollack presents the 12W
Bible") was at its hardcover inception
the first literary offspring from the Tonight
Mc Sweeney's birthing stirrups.
His anthology features a variety of stories mock-
ing the typewriter-toting, white male journalist of
the modern-era. Pollack aims much of his book's
satire toward the crosshairs of authorial vanity, tak-
ing vicious shots at ego with a pump-action twelve-
gauge. On tour currently, Pollack took time to
answer a series of questions from The Michigan
Daily e-mail.
The Michigan Daily: Question the first. This
interview, like many of the things I've found myself
involved in lately is incorrigible, incomprehensible,
hackneyed and slapped together at the last moment
with the cheapest form of crazy glue - it is no
one's fault other than my own. How do you feel
about things that are incorrigible, hackneyed and
Neal Pollack: Since that pretty much describes
my life's work, I have to say that I have a great deal
of affection for such things. Some of our best art is


TMD: McSweeney's Literary Collective is the
Rat Pack of modern literature. Considering that
,who would you compare yourself more to - Peter
Lawford or Joey Bishop?
NP: Definitely Peter Lawford. My friend Ken-
neth, who is lounging next to me as I look at his
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Jobs With Jus-
tice posters, agrees. "In no way are you Joey Bish-
op," he says. I actually think I'm Sammy Davis Jr.
TMD: How do you feel about being placed into
this sort of post-modemn pantheon of
writers by my Creative Writing GSI
(Graduate Student Instructor, for the
OLLACK sake of Mr. Pollack) amongst others?
ITARIST NP: I don't feel that I am a post-
t.on modern writer. Yes, there are some
tricks that I deploy, and my work is
)el aRio self-aware, but for the most part, I
shngton think I'm a realist, even if my work is
satirical. My narrative style is not
kt 7 p.m. tricky, and my prose style is clear and
unelliptical. Besides, I thought post-
modernism was dead.
TMD: (Interrupting Mr. Pollack) I have a gen-
eral problem with this idea of post-modernism, on
a few accounts. First, it feels like I must've
missed out on something modern, and I'm left in
some sort of proverbial dust. You are living in
very modern times, far as I can tell. Second, how
can anything be post-modern, if what I'm living
on a daily basis is modern, I'm not living outside
of this modernity and into something post, am I?
NP: Exactly.
TMD: 'Why is insincerity funny?
NP: I'm not so sure insincerity is funny, and
I'm not so sure my work is insincere. I sincerely
satirize what I satirize, and that may be why it's
funny, if you think it's funny.
TMD: Why are untruths funny?
NP: Well, I don't know for sure. But untruths
generally mask a larger truth and ... I don't know
what the flick I'm talking about.
TMID: This is your oppor-
tunity to promote your book.
NP: It's definitely the fun-
niest book published this
year, definitely funnier than
Michael Moore's unfunny
book, and, why not, may
even be a classic of its kind.
< It also has sexy naked pic-
tures of me and lots of
blowjob jokes. A little some-
. thing for everyone, except
maybe grandma, unless your
} ; ${ E 4 grandma is Diane DiPrima,
Courtesy of Harper Collins and then she might appreci-
ate it.

By Jamie Freedman
For the Daily
"What is music for? What is
anything for?" Jazz saxophone leg-
end Wayne Shorter explains that
his music is crated out of the
desire to tell stories, inspire hopes
and celebrate life. After an excep-
tional 30-year career in music,
Shorter is still in the music-mak-
ing business for the right reasons
and going strong. "No song is ever
really finished. I aim to have some
surprise and to go for the unex-
pected - I don't want to make the

aea1 Pollack~
TMD: Back to this idea of the McSweeney's Liter-
ary Army - there is an assault of authors publishing
in McSweeney's, getting book deals and marching
forward in a literary takeover, keeping this in mind,
which G.I. Joe team member are you in this attack on
the Cobra of the Literary World. Side note: Duke is
taken, Dave Eggers is Duke.
NP: I like the guy in the Marine Corps who wore
his dress blue uniform. He had the shaved head when
he took his hat off. He kicked ass.
Editor's note: The G.I Joe in question is Gun g-Ho
circa 1987.
TMD: When you brought The Neal Pollack
Anthology of American Literature from McSweeney's
to Harper Collins for the paperback edition, were you
selling out? If so, is the selling out working well for
NP: I don't think I sold out. The book, if anything,
is even harsher on the literary establishment in this
edition, which is about 100 pages longer. The idea of
a writer "selling out" is absurd. The vast majority of
writers don't make any better than a middle-class
salary. If selling out means having my books in more
bookstores, then yes, and yes, it is working for me.
That's not to take anything away from McSweeney's,
which is the greatest, but in the end, an independent
publisher can only take you so far. The big publishers
and chain bookstores have a hammerlock on the
TMD: Inevitably tomorrow's book signing will
yield a slew of private, personal moments for recipi-
ents of your signature, moments that they will cherish
indefinitely - moments that will be bought out when
signed copies of your book appear on Ebay, selling
for ridiculous amounts of cash that you will never see
- how does that grab you?
NP: I think it's hilarious. If I am going to be a cul-
tural commodity, then I want to be one all the way.
Sell my used toilet paper for all I care.

storytelling pre-
dictable and dull,"
said Shorter. "We play
to inspire curiosity in
people's lives and of
course to have some
good, old fashioned
This Thursday, the
University Musical
Society presents the
debut of the all-
acoustic Wayne Short-
er Quartet. Shorter

At the Mi
Thursday atE
ickets availat
University Mu:

Over the past 30 years, Shorter
has helped to define new styles of
music incorporating rock, classi-
cal, electronic and jazz. He has
recorded with artists such as Joni
Mitchell and Brazilian vocalist
Milton Nascimento. Recently
Shorter teamed up with old friend
and band member Herbie Han-
cock. They appeared together at
the Michigan Theater in 2000 after
releasing their successful and criti-
cally acclaimed album, 1+1.
Hancock once called Shorter
"the master writer." This is true
not only for Shorter's days work-
ing with smaller
ensembles, but for
larger ones as well. In
;HORTER 2000, the Detroit
?TET Symphony Orchestra
commissioned Shorter
ichigan to write a piece
ater scored for large
8 p.m. $16 orchestra, jazz quartet
6 and Latin percussion.
ble through Shorter said that
isical Society Miles Davis told him,
"It takes 20 year
before you run into a
wave of people you want to work
with." The band that Shorter has
put together is fresh and exciting
in its variety. Panamanian pianist
and composer Danilo Perez com-
bines Latin rhythms with jazz,
earning him commissions from all
over the world including the
Chicago Jazz Festival to the
renowned Concorso Internazionale
di Composizione in Bologna, Italy.
Bassist John Patitucci spent the
decade of 1985 to 1995 touring
with Chick Corea. Innovative
drummer Brian Blade has recorded
with a wide range of artists rang-
ing from Joshua Redman and
Kenny Garrett, to Bob Dylan,
Emmylou_ Harris, Daniel Lanois
and Joni Mitchell.
In putting together his quartet
Shorter said, "I imagined them
playing together and then inserted

will be joined by pianist Danilo
Perez, bassist John Patitucci and
drummer Brian Blade, all accom-
plished musicians in their own
Shorter is both known as saxo-
phone improviser as well as com-
poser. In the later '50s, after a
short two-year stint in the army,
Shorter became good friends with
John Coltrane. Through this
friendship they both learned to
cultivate their own unique and
ingenious talents. In 1959, at the
age of 26, Shorter joined Art
Blakey's Jazz Messengers, placing
him among top musicians. In 1964
Miles Davis asked Shorter to join
his band with John McLaughlin,
Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.
Shorter stayed with Davis for six
years until 1970, when he formed
his own fusion jazz/rock group
called Weather Report.

Isn't this the cat's meow? Lades, Mr. Neat Pollack.

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