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Closer You Are: The Story of Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices

3 Oct

CloserYouAre

In 2017, Robert Pollard, an indie rock legend from Dayton, Ohio, hit a milestone few musicians could ever dream of reaching: He released his 100th album. After more than three decades of manically recording at a light-speed pace, Pollard has created a discography so expansive that even he cannot remember everything he has written. Although he has flirted with mainstream success, he is followed by an obsessive fan base that rabidly consumes everything he releases. In Closer You Are, the first official biography written about Pollard, Matthew Cutter does an incredible job documenting a working class kid’s upbringing in the Rust Belt who would go on to have one of the most prolific and strangest careers in all of rock music.

I discovered Robert Pollard’s music as a DJ on my college radio station in the small upstate town of Geneseo, NY. The first time I found a CD of the album Bee Thousand by his band Guided by Voices in our station’s archive, I was mesmerized by the poorly recorded but insanely catchy batch of tunes with names like “Gold Star for Robot Boy” and “Kicker of Elves.” They were equally weird and familiar at the same time. I had never heard anything else like it.

Hoboken residents can stream or download songs from several of Guided by Voices albums from Freegal or those who prefer CDs can request their albums including Please be HonestLet’s Go Eat the Factory, and a Best Of.

Cutter does a great job describing Pollard’s creative process. Many of his song titles and lyrics come from nicknames he created for his students while he was an elementary school teacher in Dayton. He was obsessed with certain expressions and the sound of words, as seen in some of his most famous songs like “14 Cheerleader Coldfront” and “The Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory.” He would often wake up and write several songs while drinking his morning coffee and a dozen more before dinner. A dash of mania, a hyper-competitive personality, and a classic Midwestern work ethic made it possible.

The other great joy of reading Pollard’s biography is experiencing the sheer determination he had to become a successful musician. His wife, parents, and the local music scene in Dayton all hated his early attempts at performing and encouraged him constantly to quit. Pollard didn’t even experience any level of fame until he was in his late 30s and had left a 14-year career as an elementary school teacher. By constantly firing his band mates and having the occasional fistfight, Pollard finally was able to put together his “classic” lineup for a band that would become loved by college rock nerds like myself throughout the county. Cutter’s book is an entertaining read for both fans and people who are just curious about the creative process of an artist with a genius level of output.

Written by
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

September Selections – Best reads of the month

26 Sep

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
DeathsofEvelynHardcastle
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m., every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…The twists and turns of this inventive debut make it an instant must read.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the book that I plan to spend the first true Autumnal weekend reading. When the temperature dips nice and low, a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and my black lab Duchess. Bliss!

This title was released on Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print and Audiobook formats.  Hoboken Residents can borrow it as an ebook and a digital audiobook from Hoopla and as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Dinner List
by Rebecca Serle
TheDinnerList
Years ago, Sabrina did that old thing of imagining whom she’d invite to a birthday dinner if she could have any five guests, dead or alive. She never thought her fantasy dinner would really happen, much less turn into the most efficient therapy session of her life. Guest No. 1 is, of course, her best friend, Jessica. Guest No. 2, is Tobias, a former flame, it’s clear he still loves Sabrina. Guest No. 3 is Conrad, her former philosophy professor—the man whose field trip set Sabrina and Tobias’ fate in motion. Guest No. 4 is Robert, her father, who left her in the lurch to start a new family. Guest No. 5: Audrey Hepburn, idolized by everyone at the table except perhaps Jessica. It’s Audrey who makes the impossible seem possible. A bittersweet tale of love, loss, and living with the memories. (Kirkus)

I wasn’t sure I’d like The Dinner List, magical-realism can so easily go pear-shaped in a novel. It was the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn (my favorite actress) that decided it for me. It’s an interesting look at finally resolving your past and moving forward. Leaving us ultimately with the question, who’s on your dinner list?

This title was released in Sept. 11th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print (available October 11th) and Audiobook on CD.  It is available from eBCCLS as an audiobook and ebook.

Sea Prayer
by Khaled Hosseini
SeaPrayer
The Sea Prayer, a slight graphic novel, only 48 pages, was inspired by all too tragic real-life events. Who can forget the haunting images of 3 year old Alan Kurdi, whose body, washed up on the Turkish shore in September 2015. Told in the form of a “poignant letter written by a fearful Syrian father to his son on the eve of a treacherous sea crossing to Europe.” (Kirkus). Hosseini’s lyrical prose and evocative artwork provided by Dan Williams bring us a story of love and hope that we wish for all of our loved one. This novel was beautiful, gut-wrenching and inspiring all at once, it’s worth the tears that will come freely.

This title was released in Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover format.  It is available as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Stylist
by Rosie Nixon
Stylist
So, to end on a lighter note, if you liked The Devil wears PradaThe Stylist is for you.

“Amber Green works at Smith’s, an upscale London boutique. When stylist to the stars Mona Armstrong comes in for a private showing, a mishap on Amber’s part, seen as a genius idea by Mona, results in Amber’s going to work as Mona’s assistant during awards season.” (Kirkus)          A celebrity-filled, jet-setting adventure follows. This a perfect escapist read for an all-too brief weekend and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the celebrities’ real-life counterparts. Fun, fun, fun!

This title was released in Sept. 4th. The library will have this available in Trade Paperback and Audiobook format.

Written by Rosary Van Ingen
Head of Adult Circulation

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