STRETCH by Neal Pollack


The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude
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Freelance journalist Pollack (Alternadad, 2007, etc.) seeks to reclaim his better self within the ridicule-friendly world of yoga.

Once upon a time, the author was a hot writer, a charmingly comedic iconoclast ever ready to poke a sharp stick in the eye of convention. The world at his doorstep, he did the “full retard,” making a narcissistic ass of himself, fueled by a steady intake of recreational intoxicants. His descent was meteoric. In a review of his novel Never Mind the Pollacks (2003), the New York Times Book Review wrote that Pollack had gone from incandescent satirist to an “ordinary humor dork, yet another doughy, 35-ish white man with a goatee and thinning hair.” When his agent stopped calling, the author decided to regroup and, at the suggestion of his wife, try yoga. However, yoga—or at least its wayward applications: “high-priced self-empowerment for the over-privileged creative class”—is just the kind of activity that Pollack used to demolish with satire. But something clicked. He hasn’t abandoned snark and cynicism—they are the lifeblood of this quest, along with a healthy dose of self-abasement—but at his unassuming local yoga place, he found that the practice “calmed his inner pervert.” His circumstantial rage was chilled as he sweat through the routines, but he’s still a yoga bad boy, a bong-hitting carnivore with a taste for laughter, which makes him a highly entertaining guide as he investigates the good, bad and ugly of the yoga spectrum, from yogathons to yoga competitions to freestyle yoga rap. There is also a lovely authenticity to his discovery of his yoga fundamentalism—“the words of ancients and a few sacred physical principles that humans have been practicing since the dawn of time.”

Both sincere and subversive, Pollack will likely inspire more than one reader to commit to yoga.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-172769-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2010


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