The Last Rock Star Book, or Liz Phair: A Rant

(1998, 2015, Verse Chorus Press)

This is the story of someone attempting to profile a celebrity. It began with a song I heard on the radio, “Dance of the Seven Veils” by Liz Phair. I was listening to KCRW while working as a legal secretary in downtown Los Angeles. It was morning-time, early 1993. A certain quality in Phair’s voice grabbed my attention, leading me to compose a response. This grew and grew until it became a novel. It featured three time-lines (each with its own font) caught up in a tornado of memories, fantasies, History. I was reading Boris Pasternak’s Safe Conduct at the time, and consciously modeling Slaughterhouse Five.

A fair amount of the book was created while attending Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in Temecula CA. There is no electricity at Dorland. Much of the first draft was written by hand or on a manual typewriter. On one occasion I did bring a laptop to Dorland, because my friend George Grider had a way to power it off a car battery that was charged by a single solar panel, but it clearly didn’t belong.

I showed friends of mine what I’d written, and two of them, Steve Connell and Katherine Spielmann of Puncture magazine, offered to publish it. They were starting a publishing company called Verse Chorus Press and decided to debut with my Liz Phair novel. (I owe Steve and Katherine tremendous thanks.)

You can hear me talk with Canada’s Patti Schmidt about The Last Rock Star Book, or Liz Phair: A Rant in this excerpt from a CBC-2 interview recorded in 2003.

Reviews

Wrapped Up in Books: A Guide to Rock Novels

Bookslut, September 2005.

“Joy is a brilliant and original writer who takes more risks per page than most authors do in their entire careers, and it’s impossible not to care about his deeply funny, deeply human characters. You need to read this book.”

“The Last Rock Star Book”

David Nichols, Rolling Stone Australia, 1999.

“…one of the great rock writers of our age.”

“The Last Rock Star Book”

Ana Marie Cox, Mother Jones, January-February 1999.

“Part revenge fantasy, part rock criticism (two genres never very far removed), this is a book you’ll read in one sitting and go back to, rereading favorite passages like you’d replay favorite songs.”

“The Last Rock Star Book”

Steven Moore, Rain Taxi Review of Books, December 1998.

“This is an amazing novel in every way: in its handling of a complex, tripartite narrative, its observations on rock music, its assured, occasionally hallucinogenic prose style, and its intelligence.”

Review of “The Last Rock Star Book”

Ben Greenman, Time Out New York, November 5-12, 1998.

“…as mazy and intertextual as Joy’s screeds were direct and telegraphic.”

“Words vs. music”

Johnny Ray Huston, San Francisco Bay Guardian, September 23, 1998.

“Camden Joy’s first novel may be a love letter to rock music, but it’s sealed with the deadly intent of a mail bomber.”

“The Last Rock Star Book”

Publisher’s Weekly, August 1, 1998.

“Verse Chorus debuts with a breathless hybrid of fictional autobiography and pop-culture critique that will appeal to literary rockers and cynical Gen-Xers.”

Last Rock Star Book cover

“You will call for a revolution in America and they will love you for it, they will love you until you can’t see straight, they will hand-deliver you baked goods and put you in advertisements and forgive you everything, their hearts will brim over with love until they love the revolution right out of you. And it is real, all of it, their love, and this abiding need to smash a few of their gullible, stupid eggs.”