3 by Camden Joy

(2001, Highwater Books. 2015, Verse Chorus Press.)

I met Tom Devlin while touring to support Boy Island. Devlin and I got to talking, one thing led to another, and my next 3 novellas came out through Devlin’s prestigious Highwater Books. Unfortunately, the novellas remained out of print for over a decade until Verse Chorus Press rescued them in 2015, publishing them in a single volume.

Palm Tree 13

Bonnie Raitt said something ages ago in Rolling Stone about her “tequila lifestyle” of the early 1970s in Los Angeles. I was amused and grew inspired to imagine such a lifestyle. I knew L.A. quite well, and knew as well that Raitt was friends with The Eagles who, in their songs and photos, liked to invoke the Old West. I put all this in a blender with lime and a lot of ice and out came something like a plot. I pretended The Eagles were right, that they’d inhabited the Old West. I prepared by reading a lot of skinny Louis L’Amour paperbacks.

Pan (co-written with Colin B Morton)

Colin and I were both fans of The Fall and agreed we should collaborate on a book. Since Colin lived in Wales and I did not, we composed this entire thing via e-mail. The way it worked was this. Colin forwarded me jokes and hilarious observations about The Fall. I was to situate them inside a piece of fiction that somehow made sense. It was an interesting collaboration.

Hubcap Diamondstar Halo

My pal Jay Ruttenberg and I both loved the Chicago band Red Red Meat. One day Jay told me how their haunted leader Tim Rutili underwent a strange experience after crashing the band’s van. (You can read my version in “Ghost Town,” a review I wrote for the Village Voice.) I interviewed Rutili then composed a novella imagining his experience. He read the first draft and telephoned. He was angry. He asked us to change his name and hide his identity. We did. Dave Eggers selected Hubcap Diamondstar Halo for inclusion in Best American Non-Required Reading 2002.


“Review: Book: Camden Joy: Palm Tree 13”

Ben Bush, Fanzine, July 9, 2010.

“The most successful of his novels, Palm Tree 13 begins as a western starring Glen Frey of the Eagles competing in a buffalo round-up. The book jump-cuts into 1970s Los Angeles with a complex and sympathetic portrait of David Geffen, Don Henley and James Taylor. There is nothing else quite like this.”

Review of Novellas

Katia Dunn, Portland Mercury, May 16, 2002.

“With his latest three novellas, Joy has taken his rock criticism one step further and abandoned any grounding the books have in reality.”

 “Playlist: Songs for Camden Joy”

Trinie Dalton, LA Weekly, September 6, 2001.

“Joy passes on his crushes like they’re joints – you have to take a hit, out of politeness, and then you’re into it.”

“The Fab 3”

John Graham, Willamette Week, May 15, 2002.

“…his stories frequently leap into the realms of magic realism, leaving behind simplistic tales of band life for the fantastic alternate realities that the best songs promise.”

3 by Camden Joy Book cover

“G’ll be working on a song when acutely he recalls a detail of the accident. The windshield buckling, for example, disassembling as it gushes back to shower him in a great many pebbles and splinters of glass. How to make that into music? He crosses his arms atop his head, closes his eyes, and feels again the impact of the wheelwell against his pinwheeling torso, thinking wet sandy thoughts, bouncing awkwardly around on an elbow, his chest, a foot, his knees, his chest (again), then his head. He gets so used to feeling these blows that when the van stops rolling, he doubts it. He does not question his inability to survive such a wreck and so, very naturally, accepts death. He is neither warm nor cold but persistently, frighteningly okay. He has lived twenty-six years, which apparently is enough. He can no longer feel his limbs but can hear, still, the radio going, as apparently it does in the afterlife.”