Friday, February 16, 2007

Interview: Alternadad Neal Pollack

Satirical fiction author turned dad, Neal Pollack, relates his candid parenting experiences & musings in Alternadad. I very much enjoyed this book. Here's a quick interview with the author.

1) Many perspective dads with a "rock history/persona" feel a mix of excitement and loss. You've illustrated some of that struggle. How has becoming a dad defined or altered your persona?
I don't know that it's had much effect on my persona. The rock history/punk-rock guy was just a phase that I was going to leave anyway. It's definitely defined my life, though, in ways that are incalculable. That said, I don't think that I'm a different person because I have a kid. I'm the same person with somewhat reordered priorities.
2) You and Elijah spent a lot of time together. What sort of activities are you sharing these days?
We like to dance around the living room a lot. Also, swim lessons, and going out for ice cream, and various trips to various museums, parks, and aquariums. We also like to go out to eat and try new foods. Pleasant stuff, mostly. He's only four.
3) For Elijah: What's your favorite music/bands?
Elijah replies: "Nellie The Elephant and the Yoda song."
4) Have you explored the recent explosion of indie kids music? What are your thoughts? Any specific trends/bands you like?
I'm having trouble keeping up with it, honestly. There's almost too much, but that's for the good. I like the trend of kids' music becoming more rock-oriented, more garagey. The Dan Zanes folk explosion blasted open an enormous door, but now it's time to turn up the volume.
5) Any recent success at cooking hams for Christmas? Are you cooking these days?
My wife does most of the cooking because she has very specific ideas of what kinds of foods should enter our bodies. We get a twice-a-month box of vegetables from a community agriculture co-op, and there are fish liver oil pills that she forces us to take.
6) Your story ends with hope & promise of a new life in LA, & leaving a crime troubled neighborhood in Austin with personal financial woes. How is the new life in LA?
Oh, you know, crowded, dangerous, dirty, but also pretty exciting and fun. You never know who's going to be behind the door when it opens. There's lots of opportunity here, and the kids seem to have a good time.
7)You've drawn much criticism from The Onion article about Elijah's preschool & biting experiences. What kind of praise or criticism is Alternadad garnering?
That article was in Salon, actually. The book has received about three-quarters positive reviews. Most reviewers are at least amused by it, and some have absorbed the book's not-so-subtle subtext of the decline of the American middle class. Critics have either found it unfunny or not "alternative" enough.
8) What's your dad or mom's reaction to Alternadad? How about your mother-in-law?
My parents have been remarkably tolerant of the book, and extremely supportive. My mother-in-law also has, though she's a little dismayed by the marijuana use.
9) What's next? Another book? New project? A new Neal Pollack Invasion band & tour? Offsprings?
I have many ideas. We'll see how many of them bear fruit.

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