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September 03, 2002 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 7D

Pollack admits his new novel is the year's funniest

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 Literature" satirizes itself, while NEAL
satirizing satire all woven through a slew WSG GL
of short stories. JIM
The book, Pollack's first (although he
claims to have written scads of books in At the
the Introduction, including a version of 122 W.
the Bible which was later adapted into a
Tony-winning musical called "Neal Pol- April
lack presents the Bible") was at its hard-
cover inception, the first literary offspring
from the McSweeney's birthing stirrups.
His anthology features a variety of stories mocking
the typewriter-toting, white male journalist of the mod-
ern-era. Pollack aims much of his book's satire toward
the crosshairs of authorial vanity, taking 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 via e-
The Michigan Daily: Question the first. This inter-
view, like many of the things I've found myself involved

in lately is
Del Rio
9, 2002

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 incorrigi-
ble, hackneyed and incomprehensible?
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 incompre-
TMD: McSweeney's Literary Collective
is the Rat Pack of modern literature. Con-
sidering that, who would you compare

yourself more to - Peter Lawford or Joey Bishop?
NP: Definitely Peter Lawford. My friend Kenneth,
who is lounging next to me as I look at his "Hedwig and
the Angry Inch" and Jobs With Justice posters, agrees.
"In no way are you Joey Bishop," he says. I actually
think I'm Sammy Davis Jr.
TMD: How do you feel about
being placed into this sort of post-
modern pantheon of writers by my
Creative Writing GSI (Graduate Stu-
dent Instructor, for the sake of Mr.
Pollack) amongst others?
NP: I don't feel that I am a post-
modern writer. Yes, there are some
tricks that I deploy, and my work is
self-aware, but for the most part, I
think I'm a realist, even if my work is
satirical. My narrative style is not
tricky, and my prose style is clear and
unelliptical. Besides, I thought post-
modernism was dead.
TMD: (Interrupting Mr. Pollack) I
have a general problem with this idea
Courtesy of Harper Collins 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 mod-
ern, 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
TMD: Why are untruths funny?
NP: Well, I don't know for sure. But untruths gener-
ally mask a larger truth and ... I don't know what the
fuck I'm talking about.
TMD: This is your opportunity to promote your
book. Go!
NP: It's definitely the funniest 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 pictures of me and lots of blowjob
jokes. A little something for everyone, except maybe
grandma, unless your grandma is Diane DiPrima, and
then she might appreciate it.
TMD: Back to this idea of the McSweeney's Literary
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.1 Joe in question is Gung-H1o
circa 1987.
TMD: When you brought The Neal Pollack Antholo-
gy 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 you?
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


Neal Polla


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 the book signing will yield a slew
of private, personal moments for recipients of your sig-
nature, 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 cultur-
al commodity, then I want to be one all the way. Sell my
used toilet paper for all I care.

Isn't this the cat's meow? Everyone, Mr. Neal Pollack.

'Blade' banter over bloodletting

Co-stars Luke Goss and Wesley


hype up





By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Writer
"My personality is very eclectic, very international, very very open,"
Wesley Snipes intones in his quick, deep drawl as he contemplates his role
as a black role-model in Hollywood. "I've studied not only different mar-
tial arts styles from all over the world, but acting styles from all over the
world .... I think my work kind of reflects that, and I think I gravitate
towards that. I want [black actors] to be respected on the world stage for
being quality craftsman."
The actor, along with his "Blade II" co-star Luke Goss, spoke with
The Daily while foregoing the usual press junket for a more informal
"club tour" stop in Detroit. Snipes returns as the title half-human/half-
vampire in the surprise 1998 comic-book inspired CGI blood-fest. "This
movie is scarier," Snipes promises. "This film is more loose, and we
brought back some of the same pop culture references: The look, the
style, some of the same actors and characters. Blade is a little bit more
relaxed in this one."
"In keeping with the comic book tradition, which is episodic, we
though, wow, we should do some things in the movie that would lend
themselves to a second," said Snipes, though he assures that the film is
more than just chance to cash in on the success of the first film. "I think
this film is fantastic and I hope that not only it does better this time than
the first one but also keeps the audience anticipating a third." At the men-
tion of anchoring a franchise, Snipes smiles. "I've seen it work for Mel
(Gibson) and Danny (Glover). It did very good, so I don't mind learning
from some guys that are wiser than me."
Goss, a British stage vet and former member of the pop duo Bros,
adjusted his intense style to incorporate the thick latex make-up that
turned him into virulent bloodsucker Nomak. "The one thing I asked
the director was to make sure that [there weren't] any frowns or any-
thing sculpted into it," Goss said. "I wanted it in complete repose so
that anything that the character needed I could bring to it." After assim-
ilating with the costume, Goss used the hideous fagade to the advantage
of his characterization. "It became an asset, it became the biggest friend
that I had."
While his careful work in "Mo' Better Blues" and "Jungle Fever"
brought Snipes critical acclaim early in his career, it is his role as an
action star that has brought him international fame. His affinity for mass-
consumed blockbusters stems from the many cinematic uses of a big-
money paycheck.
"The difficulty is finding the writers and also the funds to do that. So
this is why we do the 'Blades.' We take the revenue from the 'Blades' and
fund all of the disappearing acts."
The actor hopes to parlay some of his current success into the produc-
tion of a film about the notorious Black Panthers and a respite from his
extreme physical exertion. "We hope to revisit it next year. Comic book
action heroes, man, you know what I'm saying, a brother gets tired, man,
by the time it's over with."
Goss attempted to undercut the comic-book aura of the film by playing
Nomak at a slightly lower pitch than the average graphic novel baddie.
"The thing about villainy, I think, is that it kind of applies, real back to as
it should do, to the reality of life. And villainy is always like, if you have
someone who is very powerful and very dangerous, they don't have to be
waving their arms. Like in real life, the guy that's giving it the arms and
giving it the mouth, he doesn't want to fight. The guy that comes up to

you, toe to toe and says 'So what's going to happen?' Hes the guy you
shake his hand and say 'Hey, let's just move on.'"
The two men concur that the sequel's graphic complexity and increased
gore quotient were due mostly to the trained (if slightly bizarre) hand of
director Guillermo del Toro. Known mostly for his stylish horror films,
del Toro brought his sensibilities
With karate he'll kick as a former make-up artist to
your ass. breath undead life into his
character. "[Guillermo]
knows where he's going to
put his stuff, but he wants
every angle, and you don't
question the guy."
Snipes admits thathe would
question del Toro, but only for
the good of the film. "[He]
doesn't come from an
action film back-
ground, and
in many
ways he
h a d
s o im e
a appre -
a b ou t
kind of
film. So
we made an agreement,
'I'll defer to you in the
areas you know best,
you'll defer to me in the
areas I know best."' Goss
sums up the director in a
simplistic way that would
make his fans proud.
"He's one of the
biggest men you'll
ever meet. He has
a big big big
hear and one of
the sickest
in i n d s
e v e r

is known for his tough-guy, martial arts roles, Goss had to prepare for
nearly half a year for the films intricate physicality. "The whole thing
about this movie, from start to finish, was about preparation. ... The mar-
tial arts training was tough because I hadn't done this before, and I wanted
to bring a dynamic to the role. I wanted to be a valid nemesis and also a
valid contribution to the film because I was a big fan of the previous
Snipes' own physical problems had less to do wth the work than with
the conditions filming on location. "The Czech Republic is as cold as I've
ever been" the tough-guy laughed. "It's extremely cold. It doesn't do much
for your male ego."
Despite his humble admission, the press was still anxious to hear
Snipes reaction to his status as a universal sex symbol. "My voice gets
deeper, and say 'Right on.' Is that what they say? Well, right on."

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