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James Greer answers for his absence.

June 22, 2011 \pm\30 2:31 pm

James Greer’s A Brief History (2005, Grove) is the definitive biography of one of the 1990s’ most beloved bands, Guided by Voices (GBV). It’s an engaging collection of indie rock anecdotes, liver-scarring Robert Pollard drinking stories and the inside dope on a string of lo-fi classics recorded for the price of a pepperoni pizza. But for all its greatness, the book was always missing something.

That something was Greer.

Brief History was incomplete because its author was, it seemed, painstakingly removed from the book.

“That’s good journalism,” you would say.

To which I would say, “Lay off me, Joe Bachelor’s Degree.” But, still, you’re right.

Except, however, the fact that Greer played bass for GBV on such classic albums as Alien Lanes and Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (not to mention the underrated Sunfish Holy Breakfast EP, featuring the band’s best song, “If We Wait.”). Greer had the inside scoop like nobody’s business. Yet, the only mention of his four-stringed duties was in the author bio.

Luckily, Greer, who has gone on publish two excellent novels , The Failure (2010, Akashic) and Artificial Light (2006, Akashic), has been filling in all the gaps and then some at his website, North of Onhava. His frequent Hunting Accidents posts are a great collection of his personal accounts of those years: insightful, witty and hilariously self-deprecating.

Greer was kind enough to tell us why, exactly, one would write an entire book about one’s band and fail to mention that teeny, tiny detail:

There’s a simple answer to your question: I’m an idiot. The slightly longer answer is: because when I agreed to do the book (and just to be clear, it was a command performance—Bob called me up one day after he’d decided to break up the band in 2004 and said ‘Remember that time when you were in the band and you promised that when we broke up you’d write the book?’) Of course I didn’t remember. But of course I said yes, even though I didn’t really want to write it just then. I had a few other things going on and I had to shift my schedule around to make it work. Anyway, I decided that putting myself in a Guided By Voices biography would be self-aggrandizing and unnecessary. It was in retrospect a mistake, because: turns out that the personal anecdotes enable fans to get a better sense of ‘what Bob is like’ and ‘how Bob works’ and what it was actually like to be in the band than my more standard biographical approach.

Luckily, I’ve been able to rectify that mistake to some extent in the Hunting Accidents posts, and if everything works out, to compile those anecdotes and a bunch more stuff-about-me into a loose sequel that may or may not come out next year.” 

Guided by Voices fans will find a treasure trove of insight in Hunting Accidents. And casual passers-by will get a view from the eye of the 90s indie rock storm. Everybody wins.

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9 Comments
  1. Scott McClanahan permalink
    June 22, 2011 \pm\30 3:02 pm 3:02 pm

    James Greer is the Boss.

  2. June 22, 2011 \pm\30 3:58 pm 3:58 pm

    cool, decided to stay for tea after all, i feel somewhat embarrassed now

    (welcome)

  3. Christopher Kennedy permalink
    June 22, 2011 \pm\30 9:39 pm 9:39 pm

    The Hunting Accident posts are fantastic.

  4. June 22, 2011 \pm\30 10:22 pm 10:22 pm

    I think you even stumbled across the title, James: A Bunch More Stuff About Me

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