Camden Joy

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Camden Joy
Tom Adelman

OccupationWriter, musician

Camden Joy is the pseudonym of American writer and musician Tom Adelman.[1][2] Joy is the author of six books—including The Last Rock Star Book or Liz Phair: A Rant and Lost Joy, a collection of stories, pamphlets, and posters.

In 1991, Adelman accompanied The David Lowery Band as they toured the country, first by Greyhound and later in the van as the band’s roadie. Adelman then spent several years researching David Lowery’s previous band, Camper Van Beethoven, interviewing band members, roadies, fans, producers, managers, videographers. Dissatisfied with the result,[3] he started it over under the name Camden Joy. The result was a novel that included accounts of both The David Lowery Band’s road trip and Camper Van Beethoven’s break-up.[3] Much later, in 2000, Harper Collins published the novel as Boy Island under its Quill imprint.[4]

In 1994, Camden Joy wrote two tracts (“Lost Pamphlets”) entitled The Greatest Record Album Ever Told and The Greatest Record Album Singer That Ever Was.[5]

Joy moved from Los Angeles to New York in 1995, and attained a brief notoriety for his New York City postering projects[6][7][8] and street manifestos.[9] The Lost Manifestoes of Camden Joy were wheat-pasted around Manhattan and Brooklyn throughout the last months of 1995. This Poster Will Not Never Change Your Life [6]{ was a multi-poster project in 1996, as was the collaborative Dear CMJ... [10] Joy’s final act of street postering occurred in the summer of 1997 when he unveiled the collaborative Fifty Posters About Souled American.

Joy's essays, which were a combination of music criticism, memoir, and fiction,[11] appeared in a number of periodicals, including the Village Voice, the Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Weekly, and McSweeney's and on This American Life.

After hearing Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville in 1993, Joy wrote a novel, The Last Rock Star Book or Liz Phair: A Rant, in response.[12][13] Verse Chorus Press published the novel in 1998.

In 2001, three new novellas by Joy were published by Highwater Books: Palm Tree 13 , Pan, and Hubcap Diamondstar Halo.[14][15] An excerpt of the latter appeared in “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002” edited by Dave Eggers.

In 2002, Joy’s self-published tracts were collected as Lost Joy, which also contains short stories, record reviews, essays, and all of his NYC street posters. The book was published by Seattle's TNI Books.[16]


On November 8, 2013, Joy appeared as the President's Keynote Speaker at the 55th Annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[citation needed] A roundtable on Joy's work was held the next day, entitled "Ode to Joy: The Career of Camden Joy." Participants included Samuel Cohen, Trinie Dalton, Ben Bush, David N. Meyer, and Adam Wilson. Each spoke to the value of Joy's (by now) largely-forgotten works. Earlier the same week, a panel discussion entitled "Majesty of Impulse: On the Great Lost Works of Camden Joy" occurred at Housing Works Bookstore in New York. Justin Taylor joined the discussion along with many of the Milwaukee participants, each explaining how they first discovered Joy's works. Camden Joy addressed this event, masquerading as Joey F. Scarneckio, a professional look-alike who'd been called in at the last minute to read Joy's prepared remarks.[17]


On July 14, 2015, Verse Chorus Press of Portland, Oregon brought "Lost Joy" back into print. Featuring an introduction by Jonathan Lethem, a foreword by Dennis Cooper, and blurbs from Dave Eggers and Ira Glass, with a new cover designed by Mark Lerner at Rag & Bone Shop, "Lost Joy" was the first of four Camden Joy books to be reissued by Verse Chorus; soon to follow are "Boy Island," "3 by Joy" (his three novellas collected as one), and "The Last Rock Star Book."[18]


On October 1, 2015, Camden Joy released a dozen original songs called "Hasta La Bye Bye." Joy recorded these songs with his friends under the name The Oswalds, reviving a band that had not played together since the late eighties.[19] Critic John Burdick called it, "noisy, skittish, comic and profoundly imaginative."[20]


  • Joy, Camden (1995). The greatest record album ever told. Phoenicia, New York: Rag & Bone Shop. ASIN B0006QZLZM.
  • Joy, Camden (1998). The last rock star book, or Liz Phair, a rant (1st ed.). Portland, OR: Verse Chorus Press. ISBN 978-1891241079.
  • Joy, Camden (2002). Lost Joy. Seattle, WA: TNI Books. ISBN 978-0967870328.
  • Joy, Camden (1995). The Lost Manifestoes of Camden Joy. New York: C. Joy.[21]
  • Joy, Camden (2002). Lost Joy. Seattle, WA: TNI Books. ISBN 978-0967870328.
  • Joy, Camden (2001). Palm Tree 13. Cambridge, MA: Highwater Books. ISBN 978-0970085887.
  • Joy, Camden; Morton, Colin B. (2001). Pan : a novella. Cambridge, MA: Highwater Books. ISBN 978-0970085870.
  • Joy, Camden (2001). Hubcap Diamondstar Halo. Cambridge, MA: Highwater Books. ISBN 978-0970085894.
  • Joy, Camden (2000). Boy island : a novel (1st ed.). New York: Quill. ISBN 978-0688170332.
  • Joy, Camden; et al. (1997). MAKE ME LAUGH, MAKE ME CRY: 50 Posters About Souled American. Phoenicia, New York: Rag & Bone Shop.


  1. ^ Bush, Benjamin (January 13, 2014). "Like Trenton But Without the Thrills: The Writing of Camden Joy". Los Angeles Review of Books.
  2. ^ Osenlund, R. Kurt (January 19, 2012). "Local green guru Tom Adelman recycles music skills for concert series". Pennington Post. Bucks Local News.
  3. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert (June 1, 2000). "Stalker Fiction". Dallas Observer.
  4. ^ "Boy Island". Publishers Weekly.
  5. ^ Futrelle, David (July 4, 1996). "Rock 'n' Roll Love Letters". Chicago Reader.
  6. ^ a b Pryzybylski, Jennifer (January 18, 1999). "A Fan's Notes: Camden Joy's Pop Obsession". MetroActive Books.
  7. ^ Zeiger, Mimi. "Signals and Static: Loud Paper Interviews Camden Joy". Loud Paper.
  8. ^ SPIN Media LLC (May 1996). SPIN. SPIN Media LLC. pp. 32–. ISSN 0886-3032.
  9. ^ Staff, News (Jan 10, 2012). "Local artist Camden Joy to perform at Hopewell Train Station Jan. 16, 19". The Central Jersey Sun.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Gladstone, Neil (December 12, 1996). "Pissing on the Pantheon". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014.
  11. ^ Fleming, Matt. "Lost Joy by Camden Joy". Word Riot.
  12. ^ Detweiler, Margit (December 17, 1998). "The Greatest Rock Critic". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "5 obscure music novels you need to read". FasterLouder.
  14. ^ Brown, Jake (November 19, 2001). "Interview with Camden Joy". Glorious Noise.
  15. ^ "Camden Joy Book Review". Portland Mercury, By Katia Dunn
  16. ^ "Of Joy and obsession". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Cohen, Samuel (August 15, 2013). "Various Occasions Dedicated to Revisiting the Great Lost Works of Camden Joy". MLA Commons.
  18. ^ "Bookforum talks with Camden Joy". Bookforum.
  19. ^ Carroll, Tobias (October 7, 2015). "When Pen Names Become People". Lit Hub.
  20. ^ Burdick, John (April 28, 2016). "Oswalds unveil new LP at BSP in Kingston". Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly.
  21. ^ "Rock 'n' Roll Love Letters An appreciation of the 'lost' manifestos and pamphlets of 'Camden Joy,' guerrilla critic. By David Futrelle, Chicago Reader, July 4, 1996.

Camden Joy[edit]