Q: Hello, Neal. Great to see you again.
A: Great to see you, too. Thanks for having me.
Q: Certainly. Well, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature has returned.
A: Yes. In paperback. And my six-week two-country tour begins tomorrow.
Q: I know. That’s cool and all, but the tour just doesn’t have that anarchic feel like it did last time. Does that mean you don’t love me anymore?
A: Babe, you know I love you more than anything. Just because I’m not having meet-the-author lunches and am not holding readings in public bathrooms doesn’t mean I’ve changed. It just means that my new corporate masters have booked me on Morning Zoos around the country and I get to talk to loud men with wacky nicknames who are going to ask me questions about posing naked with a cat. It’s a 7 a.m. sacrifice I must make, and I make it for you.
Q: Yeah. Must be hard to be a famous author.
A: Harder than you know. The Pope weeps for me every day.
Q: You suck, Pollack.
A: I know.
Q: So tell me about your paperback. Is it really longer than the hardback?
A: Yes. It includes ten new pieces, some of which have appeared on this website, some of which have not, as well as new footnotes, a family tree, a study guide, and other effluvia.
Q: How is it different than the hardback, though?
A: Well, the hardback, while beautiful and impressive, was almost a wholly improvised project. Dave Eggers and I conceived of it and threw it together very quickly. If you read it carefully, the central conceit doesn’t hold up very well, but that’s part of the fun. The paperback is a little more tailored and chiseled, a little more thematically consistent. I made a trade-off. The hardback had a punk do-it-yourself feel, while the paperback doesn’t, because, well, HarperCollins doesn’t operate in DIY mode. In many ways, the paperback is a different book, with a different but equally great cover anchored by one of the world’s finest paintings. I think you’ll like it. A must for any true lover of literature, just like the hardback.
Q: The new edition of your book contains some material about the War on Terrorism. Is it true that your publisher attempted to squelch its release because your ideas were deemed too “controversial”?
A: No. You’re thinking of Michael Moore.
Q: So his book wasn’t published?
A: No. It was. According to him, HarperCollins did the “right thing” by publishing his book.
Q: Even though it, yet again, has a photograph of him on the cover?
A: Yes. Isn’t that insufferable?
Q: Yes. Will you ever publish a book with your photograph on the cover?
A: Yes. It is the inevitable fate of all humorists to become lame. Be glad you were with me when I was still young and we all lived in Paris and we were very happy.
Q: So wait a second. You’ve got a record, too? What’s the deal with that?
A: I somehow managed to persuade Bloodshot Records, my favorite independent record label in Chicago, to release the Anthology as a spoken-word album.
Q: With Jon Langford, of the Mekons?
A: Yes. He is my hero, and he produced the album.
Q: What does it sound like?
A: According to Greil Marcus, “unbearable,” but what does he know? Langford and other musicians laid down tracks that parody Harry Smith’s legendary and beloved Anthology of American Folk Music, making it sound as though my album had somehow been recorded in the 1930s. I am very proud of the album, and Bloodshot has treated me with all the respect that someone with no musical talent deserves.
Q: But that’s not all. There’s more.
A: Correct. HarperCollins is also releasing the record as part of a three-CD spoken-word “boxed set” that includes another disk of new pieces from the Anthology plus a twenty-five-minute interview with me conducted by John Hodgman that is dark and mysteriously hilarious. Then there is the hour of poetry record live in Brooklyn, on the third CD.
Q: And that will be released separately from the Bloodshot album?
A: Yes. Bloodshot will only sell the single CD, and Harper will only sell the three CD set.
Q: Who is going to buy these albums?
A: You will.
Q: Speaking of poetry, what’s up with Poetry and Other Poems?
A: It has been written and is in production, but is not going to be ready by the time my tour starts. But there will be a poetry book, I promise, from McSweeney’s, possibly on a new imprint.
Q: Is it true that www.nealpollack.com, your award-winning website, has been completely revamped and updated?
A: Yes, thanks to the hard work of Alexander Budnitz, my new webmaster. Even if you are still among the employed, I know you don’t have much to do these days, now that Suck is gone, Plastic is diminished and Salon charges, so you should visit the site. See the clip from Dawson’s Creek. Look at photos of my dog. Luxuriate in a warm bath of self-aggrandizement.
Q: And is it also true that you are holding a fan fiction contest?
A: Yes. You can find details on the “WRITE” section of my website, but if you don’t feel like going there, let me just say that I am now accepting fan fiction, which you can send to this email address. I have already received two excellent fan fictions, one a James-Bond-themed thingy set in Switzerland, and one a dirty little piece about having sex with a monkey, to go with the dozen or so stories I received during the original publication of my book. Please send me fan fiction in any style. It will allow me to be close to you.
Q: Is it true you are instructing your subordinates to conduct a “black” public relations campaign that involves issuing false press releases and sending false emails to reporters in order to further the aims of your career?
A: I have no knowledge that would indicate what you just said is true.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
A: Not unless you want to hear my opinions about the Axis of Evil.
Q: No. You probably rip them off The Daily Show like everyone else I know.
A: True enough.
Q: Do you like my hat?
A: No, I do not like your hat.
Q: Goodbye, then.