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

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Camden Joy's hero is writing a quickie bio of rock star Liz Phair, but increasingly finds himself recounting his own troubled life. His ex-girlfriend (possibly Brian Jones's illegitimate daughter); Liz Phair (whom he's never met); and a mystery girl in an old photo all start to blur together. Joy's novel is a witty and cogent meditation on celebrity and obsession. Camden Joy's hero is writing a quickie bio of rock star Liz Phair, but increasingly finds himself recounting his own troubled life. His ex-girlfriend (possibly Brian Jones's illegitimate daughter); Liz Phair (whom he's never met); and a mystery girl in an old photo all start to blur together. Joy's novel is a witty and cogent meditation on celebrity and obsession.


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Camden Joy's hero is writing a quickie bio of rock star Liz Phair, but increasingly finds himself recounting his own troubled life. His ex-girlfriend (possibly Brian Jones's illegitimate daughter); Liz Phair (whom he's never met); and a mystery girl in an old photo all start to blur together. Joy's novel is a witty and cogent meditation on celebrity and obsession. Camden Joy's hero is writing a quickie bio of rock star Liz Phair, but increasingly finds himself recounting his own troubled life. His ex-girlfriend (possibly Brian Jones's illegitimate daughter); Liz Phair (whom he's never met); and a mystery girl in an old photo all start to blur together. Joy's novel is a witty and cogent meditation on celebrity and obsession.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville is one of the few masterpieces of 1990s indie, an 18-song opus serving up strong and witty lyrics with cutting observations inside tight and simple fuzzystrummed arrangements. This novel is not a masterpiece of the “rock novel” sort (a tepid pool at best), mixing three narrative strands—a fictionalised version of the author’s attempts to write a quickie rock bio on Phair for cash, the second a meandering portrait of an ex-girlfriend who was the illegitimate spawn of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville is one of the few masterpieces of 1990s indie, an 18-song opus serving up strong and witty lyrics with cutting observations inside tight and simple fuzzystrummed arrangements. This novel is not a masterpiece of the “rock novel” sort (a tepid pool at best), mixing three narrative strands—a fictionalised version of the author’s attempts to write a quickie rock bio on Phair for cash, the second a meandering portrait of an ex-girlfriend who was the illegitimate spawn of Brian Jones, the third stuff about his violent teenage years spent with anarchic arsonist/rapist friends. The sections on Liz Phair’s Exile, when the songs are unpacked and quoted, are the most interesting, as the author’s chops for top-flight criticism are showcased. The other sections lapse into autobiographical posturing and an assumption that the reader will find the weird and warped antics riveting if written in a funky rocknroll kinda manner. Patches of terrific writing, spoiled by the overall incoherence (and no rants).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A rambling novel about everything but Liz Phair--huffing, the Montreal riots, the narrator's sister. But also doubles as a book-length review of Exile in Guyville. By the end of the book everything seemingly impossibly comes together. Camden Joy is a genius! A rambling novel about everything but Liz Phair--huffing, the Montreal riots, the narrator's sister. But also doubles as a book-length review of Exile in Guyville. By the end of the book everything seemingly impossibly comes together. Camden Joy is a genius!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    I read this when it first came out bc I'm a stone Liz Phair fan (even had my dorkish picture taken with her at a concert in 05). THE LAST ROCK STAR was disappointing to me bc Liz isn't even a conceit or a motif in the novel but a cipher of a name---really, the subtitle could've been "Tanya Donelly, a Rant" or "Kim Deal, a Rant" for all that isn't discussed about Phair's peculiar appeal, both to men and women. I probably would've given this two stars---stylistically, there's nothing here to keep I read this when it first came out bc I'm a stone Liz Phair fan (even had my dorkish picture taken with her at a concert in 05). THE LAST ROCK STAR was disappointing to me bc Liz isn't even a conceit or a motif in the novel but a cipher of a name---really, the subtitle could've been "Tanya Donelly, a Rant" or "Kim Deal, a Rant" for all that isn't discussed about Phair's peculiar appeal, both to men and women. I probably would've given this two stars---stylistically, there's nothing here to keep you engaged, and the story's a snore---but I recently dug it out for the first time in a near decade and it got me weepy with nostalgia. Has it really been FIFTEEN FRICKIN' YEARS since EXILE IN GUYVILLE? Never mind my youth---where did my middle-age go? Of course, the very paradox of Liz that this book claimed to explore in the WHITECHOCOLATESPACEEGG era---was she "genuinely" alternative, or was she just cashing in on the alternative craze in 93/94---seems as remote as a controversy over whether Wild Cherry was really funky. It's also been totally obliterated by her 90s stuff, which probably would've killed this narrator by chapter 3 if the book had been set in 2003. Oh well. I still love me some Liz....

  4. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    One of my favorite reads by the elusive Mr Joy....

  5. 5 out of 5

    J M-B

    So-so reflections on the fuelling of fandom by parasitic music journalism that offers stalking by proxy. I was not convinced by Joy's imposition of a narrative structure on the tracks from 'Exile in Guyville', but that was one of the more interesting segments of the novel and the section where he seemed to have some commitment to his own writing. So-so reflections on the fuelling of fandom by parasitic music journalism that offers stalking by proxy. I was not convinced by Joy's imposition of a narrative structure on the tracks from 'Exile in Guyville', but that was one of the more interesting segments of the novel and the section where he seemed to have some commitment to his own writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Barrett

    Do you know, I naïvely bought this book in the expectation of learning more about Liz Phair? Well, apart from a few pages of speculative discussion on the origins of 'Exile in Guyville', I was sorely disappointed. Camden Joy's "rant" is a monumental ego trip that rarely raised a flicker of interest from beginning to end. Do you know, I naïvely bought this book in the expectation of learning more about Liz Phair? Well, apart from a few pages of speculative discussion on the origins of 'Exile in Guyville', I was sorely disappointed. Camden Joy's "rant" is a monumental ego trip that rarely raised a flicker of interest from beginning to end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I was disappointed because I thought the story was mainly about Liz Phair. I was wrong. It was about a guy in search of Liz Phair and dissecting her older albums, but mainly about the relationship between him and his girlfriend.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mister Mank

    Slow start, picks up, falls apart. To be sure, I liked this best when we were just ranting about Liz Phair, though I did find myself starting to like the protagonist... at least until the rape business. No thanks.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jamison Spencer

    I much prefer his novel Boy Island, a more realistic fictional story of young musicians. This one seemed to throw too much in, with coming of age stories, and transgressive fantasies, and an uncertain level of reality, and never really became a story I cared about.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Good book, but too many unanswered questions (there's a reason they're unanswered--he did only have fifteen meals to complete the book). Good book, but too many unanswered questions (there's a reason they're unanswered--he did only have fifteen meals to complete the book).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andie Nash

    Unconventional and very compelling. Once you get past the narrator's tendency to ramble a bit, it's a rewarding and suspenseful read. Unconventional and very compelling. Once you get past the narrator's tendency to ramble a bit, it's a rewarding and suspenseful read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-83... http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-83...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pekka

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nate Meyvis

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael S.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rick Weiner

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bcpl

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shandon Fowler

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kei Cripps

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Parietti

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Kane

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Martin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

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