Tag Archives: Neal Pollack

More Picking Favorites: 2007 Memoir Edition


Of all the memoir I read last year, here are my three favorites:

Dreams From My Father: I know this was available prior to 2007, but I read it last spring and was much impressed with Barack Obama’s willingness to tackle complex subjects in a deep and meaningful way. Everyone talks about his drug use in college, but what stood out for me were the heartfelt discussions about coming to terms with his mixed race background and his complex feelings for his father, an African living in Kenya.

I’m encouraged that Obama used memoir as a vehicle for opening a frank discussion of race in America. I’m delighted he felt comfortable enough with his modest drug use to discuss it openly (in stark contrast to Bill Clinton’s quasi-admission of not inhaling his drugs).  

Foreskin’s Lament: If I had to pick, this was probably my favorite memoir from 2007. Partly a discussion of fatherhood, partly a coming-of-age memoir, Shalom Auslander describes with great humor his attempts to break free from of the bonds of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing somewhere in upstate New York.

AlternaDad: Neal Pollack’s memoir about becoming a father convinced me that I should try to market some of my own essays about parenting. What I have noticed is that the best memoir always seems to inspires me to write my own. 

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The Circumcision Decision

The last good memoir I read was Neal Pollack’s Alternadad.

It’s an amusing tale of fatherhood, told from the point of view of a slacker, Gen-X rocker who eventually comes to grips with the responsibilities of fatherhood. Since I know very little about music, I thought the slant toward alternative rock might alienate me. Instead I found plenty I could relate with about parenting. In particular was the family decision on whether to have their son circumcised.

When my son was born, my wife wanted to leave him uncut. Since I am cut, I felt mildly reluctant. I asked my wife for time to think about it. To help make up my mind, I solicited people’s opinions. I even called my mom, who raised us Catholic but then converted to fundamentalist Christian while I was in the Navy.

Talking to Mom decided it for me. This is pretty much how the conversation went:

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