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Kill Your Friends: A Novel Paperback – December 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061690619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061690617
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the record industry in turmoil, this thoroughly twisted roman a clef from a former A&R insider couldn't seem timelier. Set in 1997, this debut novel follows the loathsome and morally bankrupt 27-year-old Steven Stelfox as he curses, drinks and snorts his way through a cutthroat career. Crass and bitter, Steven despises everything that originally inspired him, and as the bills pile up from his various illicit habits and ventures, he tries in vain to find the "next big thing" so he can secure another bundle of money. Satirizing Big Music, the novel brims with self-evident truths--as Steven explains, he usually only hits one in every 10 acts, but even that allows him to do better than most. As Steven's arrogance precariously struggles against a healthy dose of paranoia, he faces his ultimate nightmare: he might actually have to sober up, do some work and break out a decent record by a decent act. This is not for the easily offended, but readers with at least a slightly deranged bent will have a ball. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This debut novel takes a withering look at the British music business in the late 1990s, during the hedonistic last gasp of a dying industry. Steven Stelfox is an A & R man with a major label who is desperately searching for his next hit—when he isn’t inhaling Bloody Marys, doing massive quantities of cocaine, or watching porn. He’s all but given up on the angry black rapper Rage, who is working on his “concept” album; instead, he’s focused on a group of Spice Girls wannabes, “the worst sort of sink-estate, single-mother, benefit-fraud trash imaginable.” And their music? “The biggest insult to humanity since a roomful of Nazis first cooed over the blueprints for Auschwitz.” Contemptuous of musicians, the public, and, most of all, any colleagues who show signs of working hard, Steven prepares to save himself with a murderously ambitious plan to be named the head of A & R. Niven, who spent 10 years working in the music industry, uses his insider knowledge and a racist, misogynistic lead character to produce a very dark, viciously funny novel. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Customer Reviews

The very end was a bit interesting though.
deaduck
This is a weird but entertaining satirical look at the British music industry.
Harriet Klausner
You will never read the word "chang" so many times in one book in your life!!
Malcolm Maclean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By The_Fifer on April 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine a character so completely depraved, degenerated and perverted that he makes Hannibal Lecter seem like a Sunday school teacher. Now imagine that character fueled by a mountain of cocaine and an ocean of vodka. Now take away any sensitivity he may have learned for others of a different race, gender, physical capability, social class, postal code or sexual preference. Make him believe that there is nothing so important as the pursuit of money, put him in a nice suit, give him an expense account and turn him loose on the world without a modicum of care about the consequences of his actions to himself or others.

Now if I told you that you were going to read a novel centered on such a character, you might expect it to be a horror novel, or a thriller, maybe a mystery or police procedural. You would probably not expect that it would be the funniest thing you've read in years.

I will caution you here: if you don't think humor can possibly mix with buckets of blood, vomit, urine, feces and semen, or if you couldn't possibly laugh where there is blatant bigotry, or if wretched excess offends you to the point where you lose your sense of humor, this might not be the book for you.

If, however, you're possessed of a strong stomach and aren't easily offended, you're in for a treat.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Aspi Havewala on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
There are lot of details woven into Niven's story. We get great insights into how talent is scouted, coaxed, cajoled and "discovered". In a deeply amusing and interesting story arc, Steven develops a girl band with virtually no talent in the hope that they can ride post-Spice Girls Girl Power to a multiplatinum hit. One fascinating section has Steven talking about the amount of cash it takes to maintain his lifestyle.

There was one overriding concern I had while reading this book - that the central protagonists' personality would end up overpowering the story itself. Magically it doesn't happen - and 'Kill Your Friends' ends up being one hugely entertaining read of lasting impact.

Also by Niven:
Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By baroquemaniac on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I read this book, I was at the same time busy exploring Rachmaninov's piano music and had just finished a run-through of most of Haydn's symphonies; so I probably would not count as prime target audience for a satire on bitching and scheming in the Britpop industry.

But though I would be absolutely clueless if asked if any of the bands or musicians mentioned in the book were taken from real life, and though I would probably not much care to listen to even a few bars of the music it deals with, I got easily sucked into this obscenely sprawling vanity fair and found the various freak shows on offer quite entertaining.

The thing ist, at times the roar not only of the music, but also of what the author wants to tell us gets quite deafining, so that you want to hold your ears and scream,'Yes, I got the bloody message', but there is a fair chance that you will nonetheless follow the over-sexed, drug-addled narrator's rantings to the last sentence, repetetive though they are.

However, I do have some old-fashioned moral reservations. It is not so much that we are treated to bucketfuls of sperm and vomit and that a limited number of four-letter words accounts for a high percentage of text; but there is murder, gory and given in graphic detail, and though (hopefully) the author wants us to perceive the murderer as perverted to the core, the fact that the book as a whole is so outrageously funny seems to me to make somewhat light of atrocities that would make us blanch in real life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
One of the funniest, best written pieces of satire ive ever read. Incredibly dry and dark sense of humour so if thats not your thing then dont read this book. the writer provides a great dose of social commentary of the 90s which is well delivered
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Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved this book. A friend of mine - who coincidentally worked in A&R for a very long time - gave me a copy and said it was "right up your alley", so I gave it a whirl.

I started reading Friday night and finished about two days later. When people say things like "I couldn't put it down" about a book, this is the one that they're talking about.

It's fast paced and the words just seem to roll out of the narrator at a pace equal to what my brain can process, which helped me churn through the book incredibly fast. I only had to stop a few times to look up some of the British slang that I wasn't familiar with (given that I'm American.)

Others complain that there's too much violence, sex and drugs. That's precisely what the record industry was in the '90s. Whether this book is some truth interspersed with fabricated aspects of the story or not, it's tough to tell. If this is *entirely* made up, John Niven is an even bigger genius than I originally thought.

As a writer, this book made me want to go back to the drawing board. I want to scrap my most recent manuscript and start over. I want to write with the passion, vision and creativity than Niven writes with and convey the same emotions, visions, and scenery that he does in this book.

It's such a fantastic read that I plan to read it again in the very near future.
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