» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

October 8, 2002
I disliked this book from the moment the tall man laid it in my hands, with its tidy punk-rock cover and accompanying press photo showing Camden Joy under a parka hood bursting his seams with, well, Joy. I'd never heard of the man, apparently an underground legend in New York who would occasionally stick his head above the musical subterranean and throw out a new book. He fancies himself a writer, this music critic? well we'll just see about that. I scoffed as I read his first sentence, "The thing I remember about Cameron - he would start smiling as soon as you'd start talking to him."

Cameron? hmm... Later we learn that the character's last name is Joyce. Cameron Joyce, with his "blue-grey eyes, eyes the color of the Civil War." I steeled myself for 250 pages of narcissism and began to trudge through the first chapterful of punk-youth nostalgia and ambiguous subjectivity topped with the death of Cameron, the innocent rebel felled in obscurity by that perennially fatal combination of drugs, flood and vagrancy.

Lost Joy, Camden Joy's latest effort, consists of 18 or so short stories, reviews, and general manic rants. The second story runs along the same lines of sticky nostalgia as the first, though in a less specified manner, and I decided I could live through the reading. After the third or fourth story a strange feeling came over me and I realized how completely engrossed I had become in the writing. At one point I found myself having read a quarter of the book without putting it down. So what did Joy do to turn around an all too possible tepid failure of a novel? He turned to what he knows best, back to that for which his genuine passion lies: music. Joy writes his musical criticism in the form of a desperate plea to the general public, often under different identities, always angry yet humorous, energetic though mortally bound. It seems at times as if his mania for music will take control, his phrases nearly veering off any definable track, melding with past and future, plunging into rhetoric canyons, rising and stabilizing, walking away like nothing happened.

Be it addressed to Pavement or Spoon, Frank Black or Souled American, the Mekons or Yo La Tango, a rave from Camden Joy is like a bloody ear from Van Gogh, simultaneously touching and disturbing. Then there is the story about one homeless biker's lifelong dedication to Creedence Clearwater Revival that is utterly strange in its homage to the eternally second-place band.

Later in the book Joy proved that he could write passionately about things other than rock bands and is alternately (and sometimes all at once) tragic and funny and profound and eloquent. Specific symbolic words reoccur to serve Joy like slaves. Marie is all pure, all good, all honest and true. The Romanovs are evil and corrupting, the enemy, usually more specifically the corporate music machine. Often times it's impossible to tell what is fiction and what is autobiography. Maybe this book was so unsettling and so moving to me because it was so unexpected. From what very little I knew about Camden Joy I was ready for a lousy compilation of music reviews, or the feeble attempt of a music reviewer at writing a novel, and what I received instead was an impassioned call for a better understanding of life and loss.

SEE ALSO: www.camdenjoy.com
SEE ALSO: www.tnibooks.com

N.D. Burkey
A longtime infrequent contributor to LAS, Neil David Burkey is a painter, writer, sculptor and all-around artistic type. He currently lives in London, England, where he is, at long last, a legal resident.

See other articles by N.D. Burkey.



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