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Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll Paperback – October 10, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Greer's celebration of Guided by Voices (and, therefore, of all things Robert Pollard) is an admirer's sincere, cocoonish labor of love, committed to telling how Pollard/GBV "came to be considered by some one of the truly great artists of our time." The keenness of Greer's interest ensures a detailed retelling of GBV history, from its start as a Dayton, Ohio, garage band (Pollard was then a fourth-grade teacher). Musicians have come and gone, but besides inspiring an impressive list of other acts, GBV has endured as one of the longest-running nineties indie-rock aggregations. Mainstream acceptance has been elusive, but reading Greer makes one think that overwhelming success could destroy the band's particular appeal. Of course, not a lot of discouraging words appear here, but those interested in maverick performers who fashion careers by persevering at rootsy, highly idiosyncratic music may consider the Pollard/GBV story hard to beat, especially when told as enthusiastically as Greer tells it. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

James Greer is the author of the novel Artificial Light (Akashic 2006), which won a California Book Award for Best Debut Novel, and the nonfiction book Guided By Voices: A Brief History (Grove Press 2006), a biography about a band for which he once played bass guitar. He is currently working with director Steven Soderbergh on a rock musical. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (October 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170132
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas B. Mitchell on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Hunting Accidents" is an enjoyable read, but it leaves the GBV mystique almost completely intact. It's hard to say whether this was Greer's intention or if he was limited in scope because of editorial constraints. For new fans, it's a great introduction. Between this book, the music (obviously), and assorted press on the band, new fans have a jumping off point that most of us lacked when we first heard the band. As an overview, this book succeeds. Greer doesn't dwell on any one era of GBV's career. But, again, this is both an attribute and a hindrance. The benefit is that "Hunting Accidents" is a quick and easy read. The drawback is that hardcore fans, especially those who have seen "Watch Me Jumpstart" and kept up with GBV over the years, will be left wishing for more depth and content. I, for one, am disappointed that at least 1/3 of the book is essentially a reprint of the much more complete online discography at [...] I would have liked more text--including more songs in the chapter where Pollard analyzes random titles from his vast catalogue. That section was the most rewarding part of the entire book, totally countering the allegation that Pollard's songs make no sense. The other exciting portion of the text is the anecdotal segments about "The Monument Club." To me, this explains Pollard's longevity and prolificacy: He has a musical, social, and familial support system that allows him to refuel creatively whenever he wishes. He takes the seemingly mundane and makes it extraordinary. This conclusion is understated in the text, but, to me, it is the book's greatest accomplishment.
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Format: Paperback
Overall, this is a pretty informative, quick read. However, being a longtime, diehard GBV fan, I would have liked to have known more about the recording of the various albums, as well as have more time deveoted to some of the other important characters in the group, namely Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell. I think their stories are as essential to the success of GBV as Pollard's songwriting and vision for the band. The book just felt like too much Bob, not enough everyone else. Having met Bob on a number of occasions, I would say that he describes his personality fairly accurately (both good and bad points). Also, being an educator myself, I would have liked a little more to that storyline. Not for the novelty of it, just because I think it's great that someone in my profession can actually do this. It's amazing to me and Pollard has always been one of my heros because of it. Anyway, a worthwhile read either for the novice or the longtime fan.
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Format: Paperback
A must-have for the members of various Guided by Voices fanclub/cults such as Postal Blowfish, Disarm The Settlers and Strong Lions. Spouses/significant others who have been amused or abused by the band and their fanatic following will no doubt enjoy as well.

And if reading the above paragraph makes no sense, then you Must Buy this book. Compulsive GbV fans of course will HAVE to get a copy, but others should read if they want a glimpse into the story of Wondering Boy Poet Robert Pollard. A great xmas gift for the indie music fan.
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Format: Paperback
It is interesting to read the different reviews here. I think the criticisms reveal more about the critics than the book. I agree with the following shortcomings: not enough about the musical process, approach, and details of album making. (Bee 1000 is a masterpiece and it is good to hear from Pollard's website that a scholar is devoting a single work to the album.) Even if Greer is a "yesman" as a reviewer suggests, he still provides fruitful insights and titillating minutae that the lay-listener enjoys (see the praising reviews). Of course, the worshippers and indie-obsessor's already know all of these minutae and so are rather demanding. So, another book, less "inside," is certainly in order; one that reveals more about the specifics of Pollard's musical process. But give Greer a break! He's provided a nice resource for the unobsessed.
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I doubt I'll say much of anything that hasn't already been said in Thomas Mitchell's spot-on review...but here goes: I do love GBV. They're undoubtedly one of my two favorite bands since the Replacements, The Pixies, and Husker Du broke up (yeah...I know...Pixies are back together...I saw 'em...they're still great...blah blah), second only to Book of Kills. That's why I was a little disappointed in this book. Author Greer admits that this is a 'brief history' of the band and that's precisely what it is. It's more or less a glorified primer that you can probably read in two hours. I was severely disappointed, however, at the lack of substantive information concerning the making of GBV's great albums. Even Bee Thousand merits very little in the way of revelatory information concerning how it was written, recorded and produced. I understand, of course, that most people don't particularly care for detail along the lines of Mark Lewisohn's brilliant book on the Beatles' recording sessions but that's what I was hoping for. Too, if you've followed GBV over the years, you'll find nothing here you didn't already know...lots of interesting quotations from various people within the GBV circle but other than that nothing. Still, since this is the only book on Pollard and his band, I recommend it with reservations.
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