Neal Pollack Takes on America
|Neal welcomes a Venice Beach regular into the McSweeney’s nation.|
After 8 years working as a journalist writing Joseph Mitchell styled pieces for the Chicago Reader, Neal Pollack decided he wanted a bit of a career change. And so with the help of Dave Eggers, the author of the best seller A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius and the driving force behind the literary journal McSweeney‘s where many of the pieces in Neal’s book first appeared, Neal published his first book, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. The deal was this… McSweeney’s would front the money to print the book, and all profits after printing costs would go directly to Neal. But it also meant that besides the help of McSweeney’s one part-time employee and an intern, Neal was completely responsible for promotion of the book. There would be no advertisements, no agents, no promotion department to push the work on bookstores… and so, Neal took to the road…
Neal Pollack Archive on McSweeney’s Website
This piece arrived as an email pitch from Jonathan Menjivar in Fullerton, California. Since Transom.org didn’t fully exist yet and we needed material to get it cranked up, we helped him out. Our idea is that we’ll try to help sometimes if we can find the money and we’re excited by the idea. Most of the time, we’ll just take your work as you send it, because you’re so darned good.
This is Jonathan’s first ever radio piece, his first encounter with whole process — interviewing, editing, scripting, narrating, etc. etc. He was kind enough to let us inside his process and, if you’re new to this too, you may find it instructive. Read his email chronicle of the piece — from
the pitch, to
the road, to
Jonathan followed Neal Pollack (the first author published by McSweeney’s Press) on his book tour… which traveled to bars, punk clubs, a Venice Beach “weight lifting demonstration,” Neal’s hotel room in Vegas, and his parent’s house, among other stops.
The piece itself is still a work-in-progress, with some fat parts, some rough mixes. We intend to complete it for broadcast as part of the “Hearing Voices” series, and its final form will depend on its final broadcast home.
But we wanted to put it here on Transom.org at this point in its life. It is a picaresque tale, a bit longer than what would likely end up on the radio. You can listen to it in chapters. There are bonus sidebars. You can read Jonathan’s email and listen along the way. It’s an Internet kind of thing. It will be interesting to see how it evolves into radio.
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 09:19:41 PDT
Dear Folks at The Transom,
I know you guys aren’t quite up and running yet but I have an idea for a piece that is somewhat time sensitive and so I’d like to see about getting it underway. I am a completely amateur radio reporter with very little experience. I’ve been volunteering at KCRW since February and I had an idea for a short story that I think would work great on…
More on the creation of this piece:
This piece was created with help from HearingVoices.
Jonathan Menjivar is a volunteer and seasonal employee at KCRW in Santa Monica, California where he works as their subscription drive volunteer coordinator. “Neal Pollack Takes on America” is his first radio story he has seen to completion. It was produced out of Jonathan’s apartment with editorial assistance from Jay Allison using an audio-technica AT835b mic, a Marantz PMD 222 cassette recorder and ProTools Free. Jonathan first became interested in public radio after stumbling onto This American Life a little over four years ago and finally decided to give it a whack himself. “I knew as much about putting together radio stories as Neal knew about writing and publishing books, which is to say really nothing at all.”