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Kill Your Friends [Paperback]

John Niven
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2008
It's not dog-eat-dog around here...it's dog-gang-rapes-dog-then-tortures-him-for-five-days-before-burying-him-alive-and-taking-out-every-motherfucker-the-dog-has-ever-known. Meet Steven Stelfox. London 1997: New Labour is sweeping into power and Britpop is at its zenith. Twenty-seven-year-old A&R man Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music industry, a world where 'no one knows anything' and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public - 'Yeah, those animals'. Fuelled by greed and inhuman quantities of cocaine Stelfox blithely criss-crosses the globe ('New York, Cologne, Texas, Miami, Cannes: you shout at waiters and sign credit card slips and all that really changes is the quality of the porn') 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 cutthroat business practices to murderous new levels in a desperate attempt to salvage his career. Kill Your Friends is a dark, satirical and hysterically funny evisceration of the record business, a place populated by frauds, charlatans and bluffers, where ambition is a higher currency than talent, and where it seems anything can be achieved - as long as you want it badly enough.


Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (7 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043401799X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434017997
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Brilliant ... Hilariously scabrous ... Niven's mix of truth and fiction means Kill Your Friends might just be the best book ever written about the music industry. I say might because I've not read them all, but I've read an awful lot and his is the most savage, the most unforgiving, the funniest and the cruellest.' -- Rob Fitzpatrick, Word Magazine

`A rollicking tale of record company excess ... Hysterical ... Niven worked in the UK music industry for 10 years and his insider knowledge pays off...This is truly an account of a lost era, a brilliant description of the last decadent blow-out.' -- Matt Thorne, Independent on Sunday

`Anyone working in or trying to get into the music industry should read this book. Niven grotesquely portrays the short term disposability of this world with a great eye for detail and a stockpile of hilarious insults. Throw in some murder and major brand obsession and you have an indie American Psycho.' -- James Brown

`Brilliant. It made me ill with laughter. The filthiest, blackest, most shocking, most hilarious debut novel I've read in years.' -- India Knight

`John Niven's Kill Your Friends might just be the most exciting British novel since Trainspotting ... Although the tone - a mixture of breathtakingly black-hearted cynicism, hyperbolically dark comedy and liberal sprinklings of violence - will invite comparisons with American Psycho and Bright Lights Big City, Niven brings a uniquely vibrant tone to the page with take-no-prisoners language that manages to be equal parts comic and shocking.' -- John Naughton, Word Magazine

`Kill Your Friends gladly hammers the final and needed nail into the coffin of self-serving and undignified spin that was "Cool Britannia". It exposes a world that seethes alongside us and in which we all collude but whose nasty little machinery is rarely glimpsed. The novel is furiously, filthily funny, and, I imagine, tragically true.' -- Niall Griffiths

`One of the evilest, most vicious, despicable characters ever. I couldn't put it down.'
-- James Dean Bradfield, the Manic Street Preachers

`The anti-hero of John Niven's Kill Your Friends is magnificently eloquent in an utterly sewer-minded way ... A vicious, black-hearted howl of a book ... A realistic portrait of the music industry, doing for it what The Player did for Hollywood. Having spent ten years in the business [Niven's] insider knowledge, coupled with the kind of headlong, febrile prose that would have Hunter S. Thomson happily emptying both barrels into the sky, results in a novel that is cripplingly funny in the way that only the very darkest comedy can be.' -- Chris Power, The Times

Review

"Dark, twisted... and also laugh-out-loud funny" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Oh my God, I was not ready for this. Not at all. I absolutely bloody loved it. It's utterly jaw dropping stuff. But sweet Jesus! John Niven you sick, depraved genius.
I've been in two minds telling people about this book. On the one hand it's one of the best books I've ever read. On the other it a debouched, misogynistic, horrifically violent, ugly snarling beast. It's hard to recommend a book called `Kill your Friends' to well.... your friends; what are they going to think of me? Are they going to get it? Are they going to think that I identify with the characters, that this is something I aspire to? God I hope not but like I said, I loved this book. I read disbelieving, like staring at a train wreck or a grisly internet video.
The story concerns the music industry during Brit Pop's heyday. Steven Stelfox is our Protagonist and what a creation he is. A lazier man than me would describe him as a Patrick Bateman for the Music Industry, there are definite parallels: The money, the life of privilege and excess, a predilection for prostitutes, murder and doing anything to get ahead but Steven Stelfox is not Patrick Bateman. Bateman was a Sociopath, Stelfox definitely isn't, he's an unbelievably nasty piece of work, but he is very much a complete person with the full gambit of human emotions. it's just that they're buried deep under layers of greed, ambition Rage and lust. Niven is also not Easton-Ellis, American Psycho was cold, clinical, emotionless and bloody hard going. Kill Your Friends is an absolute riot. Niven has a way with words that will make your eyes water and in Stelfox he has the chance to voice every None PC, hateful and `you know it's wrong but...' thought that has ever entered his head.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I feel broken... 10 Nov 2009
By Hardeep
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure I should be spending time actually reviewing this, as getting down on my knees and praying for the salvation of humanity might be a better use of my time. Don't get me wrong, in my opinion, it was a very good novel. However, I thought the protagonist was simply the worst humanity has to offer, the personification of Satan on earth. The depths that "Steven Stelfox" sinks to make you feel violated in a way that only a shower with brillo pads could expunge. Truly a character to sully the soul.

Paradoxically, I couldn't put the damn thing down. It is incredibly well written, as is any novel with a character that has a strong emotional effect. The author is talented, and hilarious.

Nivens depictions of Stelfox's thought process are side-splitting as well as repellent. He seems to have turned the curse ridden one-liner into an art form. Which is a relief because without the exquisite humour, the novel wouldn't work, as it would be so debauched that I would have thrown in on the fire. The humour keeps it just light enough to engage with a very real, if evil, character, the likes of which I have never seen before - and hope I never have any close dealings with.

The story covers one year in the music business, and in much the same way as "City Boy" by Geraint Anderson reveals the dark underbelly of the finance industry, this does the same for record labels. The difference being that it is hard to see any upside, or how anyone could stand up to so much alcohol and drug abuse, while still being able to utter a coherent sentence.

Murder, drugs, pornography, booze and more booze are the staple diet of Stelfox. The dark humoured look into his twisted mind lifts the lid on the ruinous side to this industry and the intoxicating lure of fame and adoration.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kill Your Friends 24 Feb 2010
By Matty
Format:Paperback
Kill Your Friends is a sharp, witty and disturbing read. The lead character Steven who works in the music industry is a quite horrible individual. He's sexist, racist, ageist, you name it, but most of the time he's only guilty of admitting openly to thoughts that a lot of people have but don't admit to. He's then even more guilty of actually acting upon those thoughts.
This is to put it politely a "re-imagining" of American Psycho, but where I found AP quite heavy going KYF is funny and it's loaded up with great pop culture references from its setting in the mid 90's.
I enjoyed the fact that the narrator was such an unpleasant individual. It makes a refreshing change to have a lead character who isn't heroic and isn't looking to become a better person.
A good read, but not for the easily offended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the narrow-minded 16 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is about one man's attempt to rise to the top in the music industry. Stelfox is a ruthless, sexist, racist drug and alcohol abuser who seemingly has no moral compass and does whatever it takes for his own personal gain. Doesn't sound very nice, does he? Well, no, but he is a very entertaining character who is king of one-liners and put-downs. This book is hilariouly well-written and I can't wait for more from Niven.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 8 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a hilarious book, that you will not want to put down until the end. Stellfox is a memorably brilliant character whose opinions and shenanigans will really make you guffaw. It's a dark yet really well written novel with strong characters about the UK music industry in the 90s and one mans efforts to get to the top. Language. Sex. Violence. Other.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly forgetable
As I'm always on the loo(c)kout for humour, dark or light (as long as it's of the intelligent kind), I fell victim to "Kill Your Friends" by John Niven whose novel "The... Read more
Published 10 days ago by MaskedMarauder
5.0 out of 5 stars Ha ha (wtf) haha
Haven't quite finished it yet but my is this a hooking read. Can't put it down. A little too similar to American Psycho than perhaps the author intended, but Stelfox is defiantly a... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars The most honest novel I've ever read
Very well written and highly engaging. A very honest portrayal of the music business in the 1990s with a great story, well done mate
Published 20 days ago by S. Luke
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Having made my way steadily through Irvine Welsh's back catalogue, it was recommended to me that I read some John Niven novels. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Robert Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading
I bought this book as a Christmas present for a family member, which was a recommended read by my partner, unfortunately the family member we gave it too 'is yet to come back with... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Twinny
5.0 out of 5 stars A real insight to the underhand world of A&R!
It has everything you could wish for in a story. Blood, sex, drugs and music! Not for the faint hearted!
Published 2 months ago by Simon Cutner
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Best book I have read in years,loved it from fist to last page,would definitely recommend this book to anyone,laughed out loud at times.
Published 2 months ago by MR D F WRIGHT
5.0 out of 5 stars sex drugs and rock n'roll
Great read into the underbelly of the music industry. Couldn't put it down.
Highly recommend it to anyone involved in writing music.
Published 2 months ago by Alan Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb page turner
Wow! What a book, couldn't put it down. Fast paced throughout, dark & grim reading at times. Protagonist redeemed himself (a bit) sharing with us his real thoughts, before the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by nelly know all
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Great read.... Very funny and fast paced.
It gripped me from start to finish. Buy it .... but not if you're easily offended.
Published 3 months ago by 1otherthing
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