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MUSIC» 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!
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
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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