Perfect Sound Forever

Camden Joy

The Almost Revolution

While many rock critics take liberties with their reviews and many fiction writers try to capture the essence of rock in their stories, Camden Joy is one of the few people who actually bring these two disciplines together in a smart, compelling manner. Not only is his work a delicious parody of each of the two fields often fail to grasp the other one in a meaningful way but it also stands on its own as fine writing in and of itself.

The following is an except from his new collection of stories Lost Joy, published by TNI Books

Back before life was okay, imbeciles with feathered hair parted down the middle and no acne organized suburban dances, where everyone bumped and gloriously french-kissed while vomiting hard liquor down one another's champion throats. Stuck-up morons mocked me openly, said things like, "Scram, Shrimp!" so they could practice their routines in the boy's room. They told everyone I was cognoscenti (because I outpointed them in dodgeball), isolato (because I lacked adequate fashion accessories), and pozzolana (because of my big bones). They walked unscathed from totaled hot rods while I sat up late with Marie, my girlfriend, and together we cursed Jesus H. Christ for allowing them to live, with their muscle cars and glass packs, beauty rings, righteous Sat. Nite Fever bud, and primo levi weed, their blithe insistence that nothing mattered except the continued tingling of tanned flesh beneath their polyester wraps. We were two fifteen-year-olds. Long-faced, slack-jawed and, of course, down-hearted, unable to bear the lack of soixante-huitards and nouveaux philosophes in our resort-style neighborhood, Marie and I rode bikes down to the shopping center one balmy afternoon, hauling a boombox, angrily intent on accomplishing some protest. But our brains were very young, just fifteen years old, and putting the predicate to a subject like "transgression" incapacitated us. Soon we settled on candy. We would eat candy. More candy than had ever been eaten. The world would wonder where all its candy went and we alone would possess the answer, having eaten it all. That kind of thing. Ingesting the goods of our crass société de consommation to call Western culture on its fascination with simulacra and facsimile, blah de blah blah. Lemonheads, Mike and Ikes, Atomic Fireballs, Branch's Peanut Butter Rickeys, Hot Tamales, Licorice Stumps, M&M's, Mounds, Mars, Marathon Bars, &tc. You sense the magnitude of what we were planning. We bought, as I recall, thirteen dollars worth of candy; candy was cheaper then, this was a whole lot. We also bought a $3.99 cassette of Donovan's Greatest Hits which, displayed for sale near the cash register, seemed as indicative as anything else of what Johnny Baudrillard would've disdained about the dead-end way in which we were being raised.

The candy tasted good at first, especially since it was for a good cause. The first ten Hershey products went down fine. We consumed them while fidgeting around outside the store, heckling shoppers who rolled by with full carts, yelling (as kids will) about how we were going to teach you bastards a thing or two about fake serenity, about soft utopias, and so on.

We had the Donovan tape going on our boombox. A perfect soundtrack! As the digesting got tough, as we gagged on root beer barrels and choked back the stomach acids which rose, bewildered, in our over-sugared throats, Donovan too began to sound sick-but truthfully, didn't he always sound sick? The pain hardened in our guts, bellies pregnant with some devil offspring, civilization's fin de siècle hyperrealism made (ouch-!) concrete, but steadfast we continued to dine on candy, on candy, on candy (revolutions require strong stomachs). In fact, when (soon after) we began to vomit, decorating the shopping center walkway with festive rivers of speckled post-structuralist barf, we didn't even consider that the candy might've been responsible nor did we bother doubting our philosophical persuasions. We instinctively blamed Donovan. He sang in his fey queasy tone, he sang his inane ditties and we puked. Cause and effect. Perhaps our incipient revolution did founder on the shores of a sudden dextrose intolerance-but America, you can thank Donovan that you still have your candy, for without him I do believe our protest would've succeeded.

Check out the rest of PERFECT SOUND FOREVER