Kill Your Friends By John Niven

DNF at page 102

Kill Your Friends is basically a diatribe of the music industry in England in the 90's, centring around the main character of Steven Stelfox, working as an A&R man at a record company. It is filled with disgusting, immoral and drug addicted people of which Stelfox is one of the worst. This book is horrible & yet utterly fascinating at the same time - no wonder people are cynical in the music industry!

The language is crude, debauched, snide & totally politically incorrect. It's certainly NOT for the feint hearted- and honestly I can understand that. It really is below the belt in a lot of ways & I consider myself pretty open minded when it comes to books & movies. (Yet, apparently not so much as I thought, because I must be the only the person in the world who found Bad Santa really distasteful.)

In a way its a shame that there is quite so much vile language as Niven really is a clever writer, there are some funny parts in the pages I read. Its total debauchery - but its witty debauchery.

I won't be reading on though, because after the set up, there just isn't a story. None. Whatsoever. It's purely a succession of sordid vignettes involving drugs, sex & all round nastiness. I don't know what happened after 100 pages or so, but I really think there needed to be an inkling of a story by this point & there really wasn't.

Also, although the writing is fun & satirical, Niven hasn't really grasped the concept of light & shade. You really can't just bash someone over the head with the extreme for the ENTIRE content of a book without reining it in from time to time. It makes the whole thing, frankly, a little boring. John Niven All you need to know about this VERY non-PC novel is this throughline: music exec Stelfox shags, snorts and slaughters his way through 1997 (Thank you, London Paper, whoever you are.)

Stelfox is probably one of the most despicable characters you'll ever read. And because you're in his head, you get the full-throttle experience -- and that can be intense. Stelfox hates everybody, is chronically sexist, racist and every other negative -ist in the dictionary. And to top it off is no good at his job and kinda hates music in general. Shame he's an overpaid music exec.

But he comes with an infallible love for himself, a cocaine habit that'd tank an elephant and an undying affection for crass porn, which all blossoms to insane heights as he hits the motherlode of self-pity, because...

He wasn't promoted to A&R department manager.
Some other jerk was.
And now that jerk is gonna pay.

Kill Your Friends is touted as a comedy. Is it? Yep. But, at least for me, it only started to get really hilarious in the last third when the shit hits the fan and Stelfox really has to swim. I giggled for a good 5 minutes after I closed the novel, something I'd only done once up till about page 150.

Up until the midpoint, it can seem rather repetitive in parts and like the plot is stalling out - how often does Stelfox snort coke? Lost count. How often does he order a prostitute? Lost count. But wait for it. It DOES go somewhere and you'll be shaking your head and laughing when it does. Or, at least I was. (You've been warned)

A solid 4 stars for the UK's biggest wanker! John Niven Sono di mentalità aperta, non sono una puritana.
Ciò nonostante questo libro è scurrile senza motivo. Non posso credere che un individuo bestemmi e sproloqui sempre anche quando pensa.
Una concezione delle donne da Medioevo.
Non riesco nemmeno a catalogarlo come libro d'intrattenimento. Non oso pensare se un adolescente si approccia a tale lettura.
Non è irriverente, è volgare nel senso più basso del termine.
Il libro più brutto mai letto. John Niven Soundtrack - D:Ream - things can only get better

It is 1997 - the time of Cool Britannia and Things Can Only Get Better. Tony Blair is the fresh faced Prime Minister of a Britain that is newly energised, forward looking and on the up

Soundtrack - Stiff Little Fingers - Rough Trade / Pulp - Common People / The Clash - Death or Glory

Stephen Stelfox is an A&R man for a London based record company. It is his job to spot and nurture new bands. Sadly the job is all about securing product to sell to the plebs - the actual music is a secondary consideration, and integrity is a four letter word. He is cynical, ruthless and bombed out on coke and vodka most of the time (all on expenses of course). Bands are sold the dream, sucked into the machine and spat out again - broken, brutalised and in hock to their erstwhile friends in the record company.

Soundtrack - Sex Pistols - EMI / The Rezillos - Top of The Pops

Nine out of ten signed bands disappear without a trace. And yet, every now and again a record strikes a chord, a band slowly builds a following - and suddenly the money is coming in hand over fist. The A&R men are all competing to find the next big solo artist or band, and are willing to do just about anything to secure them. The problem is, no-one really has much of a clue as to what will constitute a hit single or successful band

Soundtrack - Talking Heads - Psycho Killer / Pulp - Sorted for E's and Whizz

Stelfox starts cracking up under the relentless pressure to succeed combined with his gargantuan consumption of drugs, alcohol and hookers. Added to this, he has utter contempt for the bands he is promoting, his colleagues and peers is mixed with disdain and jealousy towards anyone who looks as if they will succeed in this grubby business. Finally he snaps. The murders begin.

Soundtrack - The Buzzcocks - Everybody's Happy Nowadays

All is resolved. A happy ending ensues for Mr Stelfox - he gets what he wants at the record company, and seemingly gets away with murder. For now at least.

This book is profane, vulgar, cynical, violent, non PC and immensely funny. I enjoyed it very much.

At times it teetered on the edge of excessive parody but Niven just about reins it in - I think. Who am I to judge.

Postscript - the book name checks more than a few records and record company executives. One of those named is a chap who's great big go away townhouse we have just finished some work on. It was quite bizarre to see him named in a work of fiction.

I also dug out an old CD Marquee Moon by Television to replay after it was mentioned in dispatches. The title track is 10 minutes long - not at all how I remembered it from 1977. Good album though.
John Niven Videorecensione: John Niven

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Librarian note: An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found here.

Meet Steven Stelfox.

London 1997: New Labour is sweeping into power and Britpop is at its zenith. A&R man Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music industry, fuelled by greed and inhuman quantities of cocaine, searching for the next hit record amid a relentless orgy of self-gratification.

But as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox must take the notion of cut throat business practices to murderous new levels in a desperate attempt to salvage his career. Kill Your Friends

Edit:American Psycho ripoffish. love it... i finally got the sequel Kill 'Em All and i decided to reread this. will i finish this? who knows. it depends on my mood. will probably give up because i also have to study for my exams. also it's not like i'm ever at home sooo...


I got it mostly because i loved the movie and later found out that it was based on a book. it was funny and dark and honestly even though the protagonist is an asshole i dig him. if you like dark humor shit you should check it out John Niven Easily the winner of the funniest book of the year - possibly ever.

There are more jokes and truths on one page of this book than in the whole of other works of fictions. Its hard to describe - a bit like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho going to indie discos.

It tells the story of Steven Stelfox, an A and R man in the late 1990s and truely one of the most despicable charachters in fiction. His deeds are bad enough but you also get his inner monologue - the things he filters out are beyond belief but very funny.

In the course of the book we have his views on the recording industry, pop stars and how records are marketed to the public but we also get stunning, politcally incorrect views on everything from women (favorite position - knife held to throat is considered a response), the working classes, tax, britain, booze, drugs - everything really. Despite having no morals, everything Stelfox says is so wrong but so funny. I dont think you have to agree with him, just need a sense of humour.

The story is more a collection of thoughts/experiences as he goes through copious drugs/booze/sex trying to unearth the next big thing. Along the way, he has a couple of goes at killing one of his work rivals - the first time is hilarious and then gets a young policeman involved in the investigation (who just happens to be a musician) involvded in the cover up and 2nd subsequent murder.

I've never known a page turner like it. The discussion of real and fictional acts add to the value and of course, its from a time when I was into many of the bands discussed.

You cant stop yourself laughing at the anger of a repellant characters like this and his complete lack of any human traits.

I loved it - and I see he has other works out.

Highly recommended for the not too sensitive. John Niven Having read Dave Grohl's autobiography recently, in a way, this was refreshing. Grohl's view of the characters inhabiting the music business is rose-tinted to say the least. This is the opposite - everyone is a grotesque.
That's fine, but having started out with such a degree of repulsiveness the book soon becomes very repetitive - drink, drugs, debauched sex...then murder. I get the satire - A&R people will do anything for a hit/more money etc to fund their vapid lifestyles but this could have all been wrapped up in a novella.
If you are looking for a descent into hell, I'd recommend Irvine Welsh's stuff instead of this, to which the blurb compares it. John Niven This book is daaaaaaark. If it was any blacker you'd need UV light to read it. My initial impression was that it was 'American Psycho' minus the violence. Then the violence began.
Whereas 'American Psycho' parodied American corporate 80s excess to the extreme, 'Kill Your Friends' parodies the record industry in 90s Britain. Steven Stelfox is an A&R man for a well-known music label in 1997's London. His job is to discover hits and make the company a buttload of money. He doesn't spend a lot of time doing this however as he's usually too busy coked up, fornicating, or verbally or mentally tearing into anyone else whose existence is not his own. Interestingly, this book is called 'Kill Your Friends' however Steven has no friends. None that we come into contact with anyway. There is a lot of social interaction, however it is all with colleagues, musicians, prostitutes, and unfortunates who happen to cross Steven's path.
I'll never understand people who rate a book down because they can't relate to the central character. I don't want to read about myself. Steven Stelfox is despicable. If you could relate to him I'd be worried. But he also made me laugh more than any other novel's character has in years. This book is relentless, nasty, brutal, but oh so hilariously entertaining if you're not easily offended. I couldn't stop cracking up with laughter reading this on my tube journeys. If I didn't have the book in my hand I would have looked like a demented grinning idiot to the other passengers.
It doesn't revel (wallow) in the violence like 'American Psycho' does. There are only a couple key scenes of violence and they are brief. In fact those who enjoyed 'Psycho' but couldn't stomach the atrocities might very well have found the perfect book in 'Kill Your Friends'.
Like with a lot of films I love, I'm often drawn to dark and disturbing novels. I think it's because I'm so cheerful and happy in real life. It's kind of like a balancing act. And to me it's almost like immersing yourself in and learning about a different culture.
As cruel and nasty as Steven Stelfox is, I think it'd be difficult to be personally offended by anything in here as Stelfox takes potshots at every spectrum of society. Nobody is safe from his withering wrath.
So if you're looking for a pitch black read that is almost guaranteed to get your chuckle gears in motion, you probably won't do much better than 'Kill Your Friends'. At the very least it will make you feel so much better as a person.
John Niven John Niven is what would happen if Nick Hornby got into a terrible car crash and punctured the lobe where politeness lives. I had a heck of a time getting into his novel Kill Your Friends, since I'm not exactly fluent in vitriol. It is pages and pages of a man angrily screaming British slang for cocaine in your face, spit foaming at the corners of his mouth.

Steven Stelfox is an A&R dude negotiating the Brit pop scene in the 1990s. It's a cruel, cruel place where everyone is trying to find the next big thing. The young sexy girl singer, the song that resonates with clubbers, the reimagining of the Spice Girls, or those croony Emo artists. When things don't go his way, Steven may do something like hammer away at a colleague's brain with a baseball bat, but only after his first murderous attempt fails: the one where he tries to overdose the guy, then plugs his orifices with all sorts of embarrassing things.

Stelfox is a moral contortionist, and lots of other -ists that exists: racist, sexist, elitist. As I got used to his voice, the book improved just enough to keep reading. Eventually I was enjoying his clever, albeit repetitious, and evil tirades:

The laughter and smiles of the executives is brittle and plastic; we've done this so many times, often for bands and singers who turn out to be about as commercial as tooth-kind drinkable HIV for children.

They're all good little capitalists at heart, bands. Even Thom fucking Yorke, when he's not crying about what kind of coffee beans you should be using so some cunt in Outer Mongolia can afford to put an inside toilet in his filthy gaff, even he's wondering what the marketing spend is looking like.

People are funny when they are mad. But it's an easy kind of funny.

John Niven