An Open Letter to Neal Pollack, American Folk Hero
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Dear Mr. Pollack:
It gives me great pleasure to announce to you that I have been published. Not only that, but my work, "The Horrible Humour & Other Stories," can be categorized under The New Fiction, a blend of short, lyric, pop-culture comedy and literary genius which you yourself invented in the basement of your very large home, then presented to the world in the form of "The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature."
This means, Mr. Pollack, that we are sitting at the same table now, aren't we? Yes, you are the poster-boy for the world-famous McSweeney's, and I am but a contributor to So New Media, a small but likable outfit out of Austin, Texas. But I think we drink the same drinks, and we both put our pants on two legs at a time. Therefore, I think it's time we engage in our first competitive tête-à-tête -- a round designed to reveal who will be remembered as the Jack Kerouac of The New Fiction.
Below, you will find a list of intrusive questions, followed by my personal answers in parentheses. On some, I have added necessary elaboration. Please answer to the best of your so-called ability:
1. While many young writers have recently written glorious novels (Zadie Smith and her "White Teeth" come to mind), there still has not been that glorious first novel written by a Web-discovered purveyor of The New Fiction. But it's just a matter of time; just as global warming will one day turn Florida into an underwater attraction where tourists don scuba gear to visit the exact spot where George W. Bush died a salty, retired death, The New Fiction will be on the cover of Time when someone -- you or me, perhaps? -- writes the first bestseller of the brand. Question: What page are you on with your novel? (I'm on 3,062, and counting, jack.)
2. Does it bother you that people call you an American Folk Hero? (Yes, it bothers me.)
3. Do you have any children, that you know about, that you brought to this Earth on purpose? (I have two. Ha! And I'm married. This means I have three people who are asking -- no, demanding -- that I become a more famous writer than you. My wife is obsessed with this, really. She's got a competitive streak, let me tell you, and she cannot fathom how you have leapt to the forefront of a literary movement in which I, too, am engaged. In short, she refuses to sleep with me until I prove my writerly manhood to her by overtaking the likes of you.)
4. I noticed in one of your self-centered press pictures, you chose to go shirtless. You seem rather intimidating. But I wonder, Mr. Pollack: How much can you bench? (Me: 122 lbs.)
5. When speaking to an audience larger than three people, do you often succumb to dry-mouth so fierce that your lips actually stick to your teeth so that you resemble a skeleton trying to click out one, just one, intelligible, tongue-swollen sentence? (Yes, this happens to me, too.)
6. Do you have a Kroger Plus Card? (Yes, I do. I recommend them. If you don't have a Kroger in your neck of the woods, I'm sure there's some sort of discount deal offered by your preferred grocery store. Just yesterday, I saved 75 cents on a six-pack of America's Finest.)
7. Do you have Dave Eggers' home phone number and address? (I don't.)
8. Do you have Zadie Smith's email? (I don't.)
9. Do you think that this open letter will help you transform into an even larger larger-than-life American Folk Hero? (I do, and my hope is, the adoring public will eventually grow tired of your macho countenance and workingman comedy. And then, in their search for something new, they'll stumble across the refined posture of Yours Truly, as I'm walking right behind you, Mr. Pollack. And they will say, "Hey, this is the American writer I was looking for. Not that fraud Mr. Pollack, who now writes for Vanity Fair." And then we will all chase you, chase you away and you will live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere and write about your trip to Havana while shooting your guns every time a greeny journalist comes tapping lightly on your door. Then, you will make your comeback, and it will be the Mother of All Celebrity Comebacks ... until I make mine.)
Thanks for your time.
Yours in writing,