JOHN NIVEN Kill Your Friends (Vintage)


Meanwhile, on the other side of the industry, Steven Stelfox is an A& R man working for an unnamed record company in a London that’s at the rampaging height of Britpop and on the optimistic cusp of New Labour. As his magic hitseeking touch fades he has to resort to desperate measures to preserve his position, and before you can say “American Psycho” he’s fashioning bizarre devices out of coathangers and christening a pristine kitchen with human blood.


It’s fair to say that, with its brandname fetishizing, blank-eyed, remorseless murders and meticulous mealtime detailing, John Niven’s debut long playing novel will be almost comfortingly familiar to anybody who’s already read Brett Easton Ellis’ über-controversial doorstopper.  Yet it’s also one of those rollicking rollercoaster of a read: I chewed through its 324 pages in four days, although generous amounts of whitespace around the type helped. It’s also deeply, horribly politically incorrect; the kind of book you know you really shouldn’t be enjoying whilst doing just that. Niven’s clever conceit of setting the action in 1997 means that he can position real bands whose career trajectories have fizzled rather than burned brightly amongst the fictional ones in the narrative: there’s certainly something quaintly nostalgic reading about the media buzz surrounding one album wonders such as Ultrasound, for example.


Featuring copious quantities of sex and drugs and a little less rock ‘n’ roll, “Kill Your Friends” is a fictional testament to a platinum age when the stars and circumstances were aligned and London could briefly stake a claim to being the centre of the known pop culture universe. It seems almost like a timecapsule from a bygone era nowadays.