By Neal Pollack
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375423628, 304pp.)
Publication Date: January 9, 2007
Categories: Parental Memoirs
A few years ago, Neal Pollack was probably the least likely father you’ve ever met: a pop-culture-obsessed writer and self-styled party guy known mostly for outrageous literary antics. In typical fashion, he responded to the birth of his son by forming a mediocre rock band and taking it on tour. Now, in Alternadad, he tells the hilarious and poignant story of how he learned to be a father to his son, Elijah, after the failure of his short-lived rock ’n’ roll dreams.
Pollack and his wife, Regina, were determined to raise their son without growing up too much themselves. They welcomed the responsibility but were worried that they’d become uptight and out of touch. Through the ups and downs of the first years of their son’s life their determination is put to the test, and they find themselves changing in ways they never expected, particularly after Elijah develops a biting problem in preschool.
Alternadad is a refreshingly honest book about the wonders, terrors, and idiocies of parenting today. From enrolling his son in an absurd corporate gymnastics class to a disastrous visit to a rock festival to uncomfortable encounters with other parents whom he’d ordinarily avoid, Pollack candidly explores the everyday struggles and the long-term compromises that come with parenthood.
Mixing ironic skepticism with an appreciation for the absurdities of everyday life, Alternadad is a portrait of a new version of the American family: responsible if unorthodox parents raising kids who know the difference between the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Wildly funny, surprising, and often moving, it just might be the parenting bible for a new generation of mothers and fathers.
Neal Pollack is the author of several acclaimed books of satirical fiction, including The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature and the novel Never Mind the Pollacks. A contributor to many magazines, newspapers, and Web sites, he also keeps a semidaily blog at www.nealpollack.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.
“Very funny. . .an honest and true story, just beyond the ordinary, of two people with a child trying to make their way in the world.”–Poets & Writers
“Hilarious. . .Bracingly honest, and so full of love it could just as easily go in the Parenting section, next to Anne Lamont's classic, Operating Instructions. . .Alternadad gives comfort, with a bonus of lots of laughs, to every parent who is just doing the best he can.”–The Plain Dealer
“Hilarious and emotional. . .an amusingly cranky memoir.”–The New York Times Book Review
“Pollack's candid account of his escapades is a refreshing antidote to the ultrasensitive, get-it-all-right mommy struggles that can make every parent feel even more overwhelmed and inadequate.”–The New York Post
“Pollack treats the subject of fatherhood with humor and honesty...Never resorting to Bill Cosby-Fatherhood-type wit and witticisms, he succeeds in writing about parenting and reveals himself as an ever-evolving writer who's not afraid to call life as he sees it.”–Playboy
“Surprisingly heartwarming, considerably jarring and funny as fuck.”–Philadelphia City Paper
“Very funny. . . Neal Pollack chronicles his version of rock ‘n roll fatherhood.”–Child
“Revelatory and funny . . . More traditional dads surely love their kids just as much, but rarely has the bond felt more moving than it does here.”–Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-softly poignant. . . it just may be the most offbeat book about parenting ever written. . . makes the reader break out into smiles nearly constantly.”–Booklist
“Engaging...Pollack is...America's postmodern Erma Bombeck.”–Texas Monthly
“Witty...Pollack hasn't lost his flair for tongue-in-cheek commentary.”–Publisher's Weekly
“Hilarious. . . [his son] Elijah is. . . a precocious child with the face of a Botticelli and the temperament of Dennis the Menace.”–The Los Angeles Times
“Eminently readable...observant, witty, and smart.”–Library Journal
“With his new memoir, the recovered satirist follows in the grand tradition of books like Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. For Pollack, it's a drastic reversal...but we're lucky that he acquiesced.”–Details
"Alternadad is peppered with the scary-funny one-liners we’ve come to expect from the intriguing American crank Neal Pollack. But it's also a surprisingly romantic tale of love and hope and even civic-minded warmth, set amidst the dingier blocks of Chicago and Austin and the trash-can fires of Philadelphia."
--Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation