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Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll…

Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel (P.S.) (2003)

by Neal Pollack

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1725106,382 (3.14)5
The most important document in the history of rock 'n' roll since the liner notes to Killroy Was Here.(This paperback includes a new P.S. section with author interviews, insights, features, suggested readings, and more.) Never Mind the Pollacks, the first novel from acclaimed humorist Neal Pollack, is an epic history of rock-and-roll told through the eyes of two rival rock critics. The novel spans the decades from the 1940s to the present day, and includes such real-life characters as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Bruce Springsteen, Joey Ramone, Patti Smith, Kurt Cobain, and many more. Pollack deploys his trademark roasting of literary pomposity, but his narrative transcends mere parody to become full-fledged social satire. He takes on the icons of popular music and their biographers, true-life rock books and historical fiction. There has never been a book quite like this one, particularly since it contains more than two-dozen original songs written by the author. The life story of the book's main character, "Neal Pollack," is uniquely American. The only son of Jewish immigrant parents, he shows an aptitude early in life for rock criticism. Prodded by the legendary Sam Phillips and haunted by a ghostly, mysterious blues man, deeply disturbed by his mother's illegitimate marriage to Jerry Lee Lewis, he leaves his Memphis boyhood behind to become a folk troubadour in Greenwich Village. Six broken hearts, two liver transplants, and a lot of cocaine orgies later, he meets his ultimate destiny in a surprise ending that will shock anyone who wasn't paying attention to the early chapters. With Never Mind the Pollacks, Neal Pollack establishes himself as one of the most important novelists of his generation who isn't named Jonathan.… (more)

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A wild ride of a book, this novel flies through the history of rock ‘n’ roll on the heels of Neal Pollack, “the greatest music critic of all time,” as he follows his spirit guide, a mythical blues singer named Clambone, in search of the ultimate Truth about music and America. The novel takes the guise of a biography of Pollack writen by another music critic, Paul St. Pierre, after Pollack’s death at the height of his degradation.

Pollack manages to be present as every rock legend is getting his or her start, so Elvis, Dylan, Mick, Lou Reed, Iggy, the Ramones and Kurt Cobain (among many others) all appear as characters in his travels through the wasteland of rock – and they all seem to despise Pollack equally. This book is definitely not meant to be taken literally or seriously, but rather serves as an epic retelling of the rise and fall of rock ‘n’ roll, and if experienced in that vein, it is actually quite exhilarating and funny, even spiritual at times. I only wish I knew more about music, so I could have caught more of the inside jokes. ( )
  sturlington | Aug 4, 2011 |
As I've been getting more and more into not just reading books, but also reading about books (on fine blogs like Bookslut and 50 Books), I've noticed that there are a few names that are often used as examples of both what is right and what is wrong with writers today - "you either love 'em or hate 'em" kind of authors. Neil Pollack's name seemed to come up more than most, so when I saw Never Mind at a used book sale for $4, I picked it up. After reading it I can see how it would be hard to have something other than complete love or all-out hate for its author.

Never Mind, The Gump-like story of a pompous, know-it-all rock critic (is there any other kind?) weaving his through most of Rock and Roll's seminal moments, is a book that is completely off-the-wall, only understandable to those who grew up reading Rolling Stone (back when it was still cool to read RS), sometimes extremely gross, and often times nonsensical. It's also hilarious. Laugh-out-loud-page-after-page hilarious. Pollack's knowledge of the subject matter and his boldness in insulting his target audience - music snobs (of which he's obviously one) - and most importantly the fact that the book is hilarious (did I mention that already?) puts him firmly in my "what's right with writers today" column. ( )
1 vote mhgatti | Aug 8, 2007 |
I laughed out loud on every page. Definitely a must for music geeks. ( )
1 vote bhalpin | Nov 27, 2006 |
when people ask you who invented punk rock, it wasn't the stooges, the velvets, the dolls or elvis, it was NEAL FUCKEN POLLACK! so there.
  oh_terrorista | Feb 17, 2006 |
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I want a job I want a job I want a real job I want a job I want a job that pays. I want a job I want a job I want a real job One that satisfies My artistic needs. -- Sid and Nancy, 1986
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The phone rang in the post-noon dusk, and I answered it, because I'd told them not to call me unless somebody famous died.
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