After failing to find a publisher for Saguaro, the life story of a washed-up rock star named Bobby Bird who embodies every rock and roll cliché, Carson Mell released the novel himself. Electric Literature featured a chapter as part of their Recommended Reading series before they released a digital version. You can read the chapter here. The rest reads like the most depraved moments from VH1’s “Behind the Music” mashed into one musician (plus an adventure on a satanic cult cruise ship and a fist-fight with Bob Dylan).
If Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison had a love child raised by Barry Hannah he would sound something like Bobby Bird.
An ugly, dozen-eared amalgam with a multicolored mustache above a mouthful of twenty brands of smoldering cigarettes.
On his mother:
That was Jude Lynn Bird in a nutshell. To tell you anything more about her—about her failed career as a poet, about the blue bandana she wore every day like an Injun, about driving her to the emergency room when I was sixteen and telling her on the way home that if she promised never to try it again then we didn’t have to talk about it—to tell you any of those stories is to pretend that she was the kind of woman you could get a grasp on.
Eventually I’d find a fellow creep in some bar, trade a superficial insult or two, and we’d go at it. It was like looking for a lover.
On the birth of his son:
When that little pink thing came slipping out of Nancy, all covered in bloody bits, a lucid thought shot through my head like a bolt of lightning: I’m outta here.
Half-way through Bobby Bird warns that “This is a story I’m not too inclined to tell unless you are particularly interested in tales of full grown men turning into worthless assholes.” Bobby Bird is a misogynist, an addict, and a deadbeat whose most redemptive quality is a kind of endearing stupidity. A deeper search than just the limits of excess drives him, though. Be it through lovers, surrogate fathers, or brothers-in-arms, Bird’s real search for companionship keeps him restless, and keeps the plot rocketing forward.
The author has created about a handful of videos to accompany the novel. “Bobby Bird Discusses His Partial Discography” includes such epiphanies as: “This one has pee on the cover,” “This is just me looking through a lady’s eyes,” and, “The older you get the more you discover you’re a racist.”
Mell wrote a second novel, The Blue Bourbon Orchestra, which he also self-published. Patrick DeWitt, calls it “a big-hearted romp through the dire freakish landscape that is the mind of the North American Male.” You can read an excerpt here. It seems to be even better than Saguaro. That’s all you can read for now. It’s out of print, too, and if you have an extra copy, I’d love to read it.
Similar Reads:Rontel, Sam Pink; Airships, Barry Hannah; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson.