Josh Frank and Caryn Ganz's illuminating Fool the World: The Oral Biography of a Band Called Pixies might be the definitive written document on the group, perhaps the most cryptic and under-documented major band in the history of rock music. The need for this kind of book was considerable. Certainly the spate of Pixies' reunion tour tie-in products has done some of the work in quenching the thirst of the die-hards. But what Fool the World offers us that the others don't is the whole deal, not just the story of the re-birth of this beloved band. The book recounts, in painstaking detail and with profound craftsmanship, the brief yet creatively explosive history of the Pixies - from the childhood beginnings (including some great history/insight into Kim and Kelley Deal), through to the present day (the band's seemingly unending reunion tour). Its certainly the most intimate recounting of the band's infamous break up that I've read. Along the way, nearly everyone who had a hand in the Pixies' meteoric rise and demise weighs in - the original staff of Fort Apache Studios, Ivo Watts-Russell, Steve Albini, Kristin Hirsch, Tanya Donelly, ex-wives, ex-husbands, and of course the band members themselves. The result is the closest approximation of the `truth' we're ever likely to get about this band. Thankfully, it's also a damn good read.
The thing I love about oral biographies, and this one in particular, is the Rashomon-like potential for differing subjective realities. If done well (this one is) about a worthy and sufficiently dramatic subject (check on that), a skilled author(s) can approach something more truthful than the truth - its not that the facts were recounted; its how they were recounted. The ways in which Charles (Black Francis) and Kim Deal differ in retelling the same event has more to say about the dynamic of their relationship than the actual validity of the event in question. Charles kicked a guitar at Kim during a show; that happened. But Charles' reasons why and Kim's recollection of Charles' reasons why provide the true insight. Even now, fifteen years on, the dynamic between these two still shines through. This is just one example; the book provides endless `truths', as any good oral biography will do. Fool the World just happens to do it better than most. This is required reading.