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Kill Your Friends

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,785 ratings  ·  289 reviews
AS the twentieth century breathes its very last, with Britpop at its zenith, twenty-seven-year-old A&R man Steven Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through London’s music industry. Blithely crisscrossing the globe in search of the next megahit—fueled by greed and inhuman quantities of cocaine—Stelfox freely indulges in an unending orgy of self-gratification. But ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published February 4th 2008)
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I struggled with a rating - this book is well written, yes. I gave it two stars, thinking the problems I had with it are due to the subjects the novel addresses and not the skill with which the author displays them. There is no hero in this novel; the protagonist is an anti-hero and usually I would be okay with that - and maybe I am in this particular case as well.
Perhaps my struggle with this novel is that despite all of the truly wretched, immoral and sociopathic behavior of the character this
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
Tattered Cover Book Store
"Kill Your Friends" is a special breed of novel. Reading it, I felt like I was looking through a particularly wide peephole into a sordid world of drugs, sex, and booze populated by soulless characters who somehow live among us. Needless to say, I was hooked. Steven Stelfox is an A&R rep for a major British music label in 1997. His whole world revolves about doing anything --be it illegal, immoral, or just plain wrong -- to get a hit record. This novel is full of fun British slang that I fin ...more
While I like satire this book by John Niven is satire so vile, degrading and sort of scabrous that it was just too much. There's absolutely no nuance as it's just hammer away by Niven, scene after scene, chapter after chapter of debauched antics. Too bad too as the setting, the music Q & R world in Loncon circa 1997 is rife with the chances to ruffle some feathers. Niven though shows he has no restraint in anything--writing style, plot pacing, nothing.

Usually for one of these books about a
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
Ian Mapp
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 bel
Allison Tynan
Good grief! I'm not sure that I should admit to having read this book never mind give it four stars. Imagine the guys who produce Nuts sniffing several Gs of Chang with vodka Redbull chasers getting together and writing a novel, this would be it. Steven Stelfox the antihero is an A&R rep for a major British music label in 1997 and he'll do absolutely anything to further his cause no matter how utterly depraved it might be. I was so shocked in places (mainly the graphic sex scenes) that I had ...more
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. This is without a doubt the most accurate depiction of the record industry that has been novelized. Having lived it myself during the same period this was about (late 90's) i had many a flashback. In order to really see something you have to step away and return with clarity. Although the main character in this novel, a London A&R rep trying to deal with the changing climate of the industry at the beginning of the internet age, abuses himself more than ...more
Jd Dunn
Vile, horrendous, racist chauvinist and utterly believable: protagonist Stelfox is the ultimate anti-hero.

This is my favourite book. It is hilarious. I found myself reading it slack-jawed, mouth hanging open on the commute, then letting out a giggle at the most incredibly inappropriate things.

Reading other reviews, some people have been offended by this book - which is no surprise. If you're easily offended, leave it on the shelf - or try and remember that it is a work of fiction in the first pe
Someone told me an old band of mine was mentioned in this book, and it's true! My old band from my distant youth does get a mention.

My goodness but this is brimming with vitriol. This is a fierce tumble through a year in the 1990s through the eyes of a ex-A&R guy who really was there in the 90's music mania. It feels mega authentic, especially if you've lived through it because all the name checks and band references are so on the button.

A bit of a tough read because the protagonist is misog
Mark Wilson
In lesser hands the hateful protagonist of this novel would be unreadable. Not so in Niven's capable grasp.
Stelfox is racist, rude, sexist, ruthlessly ambitious and wonderfully honest (at least in how he sees the world). That Niven allows such a fantastic bastard like Stelfox to triumph throughout the book is testament to the man's ability to make you like and even care about his horrific main character. Y
You laugh when you know you should not and grimace at his too accurate and too severe desc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin Bauer
I feel as though I am some sort of hipster when it comes to my favorite author in that he’s relatively unheard of in the States. Having never met another American acquainted with his work before my meddling, I simply want to document the unlikely events that directed me to discovering John Niven.

Niven is a Scottish author who has five published books on record with two more scheduled to be released this year, including his first nonfiction piece about The Clash. His full length debut Kill Your F
I was given this book and The Second Coming in a publisher's double offer, neatly wrapped up together in a cellophane wrapper. I can only surmise that this is the literary equivalent of someone posting two turds in an envelope through your letter box.

I gave up reading this book after 100 pages. Perhaps it's because I have read so many good books recently that this one seemed awful in comparison; perhaps it just is a terrible book? Either way, I couldn't stand the thought of forcing myself to rea
It's a typical "man-book".
It's so cynical and evil...but I loved it.

Actually on 10 pages he's talking 3 of them about sex, 3 about drugs and 4 about music and these horrible bands and his collegues. And yes, there is a murder...

You have to read it. It's far better than "Vollidiot" from Tommy Jaud.
This book is so awful, I couldn't even be bothered to finish it (which I usually don't do). Really, really horrible. The writer cannot pull off his Bret Easton Ellis impersonation and it is, quite frankly, a book even emptier and more astonishingly boring than Ellis' creations.
Karl Butler
A very poorly written book that simply tried too hard to be funny and shocking, but ends up being too direct to be either. A real shame that a satire on the music industry could not be a bit more clever and original.
It's 1997, Tony Blair is about to storm to power and the music industry is still fuelled by Britpop without realising it's running on fumes. Steven Stelfox, a foul-mouthed A&R man with unsavoury sexual preferences and a terrifying cocaine habit is our guide through the murky workings of the industry: the backstabbing, bigotry and over-riding cluelessness about music. The cavalcade of florid abuse and hedonism is entertaining for a while, as he attempts to further his own career by gambling o ...more
The story of a completely nihilistic and utterly amoral A&R man in the record business, obsessed with finding the "next big hit" and not afraid to take any step necessary to ensure his postion is preserved and enhanced. The book provides an insight into some of the workings of the music industry (the author has experience) but seems more about cocaine, alcohol and casual sex, but mostly cocaine.
Industrial quantities of coke, chang, bump ... are consumed throughout to the point that I began t
Jeremy Hurd
This book has been written a thousand different times in a thousand different ways in a thousand different settings by a thousand different authors, and every one of them is better than this one. I gave up 1/3 of the way through, and I'll finish almost anything.
Katie Khan
Kill Your Friends made me realise I spent 6 months of my life in 2005 as an A&R Coordinator at Atlantic Records with the sole responsibility of looking after a cupboard. Organising the cupboard, categorising the cupboard, crawling around on my knees looking for tapes/hard drives/lost demos in the cupboard.

That fucking cupboard.

Kill Your Friends made me realise my career in the music industry meant absolutely fucking nothing. It gave me no useful skills whatsoever and, looking back on it havi
Mal Adams
Where to begin?

Well, this is basically a long hate-filled rant by a (hopefully entirely fictional) A&R man from the late 90s Britpop era. Steven Stelfox has no redeeming qualities to him whatsoever - he's easily the most misogynistic, racist, bitter and downright nasty person you'll ever encounter.

This book chronicles his work and life in a blisteringly fast and breathless full-on hatefest. It's like being blasted by a water cannon containing liquidised hate for a few hundred pages.

Niven di
Peter Carroll
A friend gave me a loan of this a long while back but I wasn't sure about reading it. I abandoned American Psycho near the end after becoming tired of the endless descriptions of designer clothing and the sexual violence, which got more and more gratuitous and unpleasant as the book went along. Some reviewers compared Kill Your Friends to that book, so I put off starting it. I can see why they are compared but I found Niven's book far more engaging for a number of reasons.

The main character, Ste
I've read "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis, and "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess, so I am not unfamiliar with novels that contain a lot of violence or depravity, nor do I automatically dislike them. For that matter, I have read, and greatly enjoyed, several works by Chuck Palahniuk, who is also known for works that contain elements that are difficult to stomach as a reader. Despite all of this, I did not like "Kill Your Friends" by John Niven at all.

I think my problem with this nove
It's been a good few years since I read this book, however I remember devouring it. I also remember one moment that caused me to laugh so much I had tears rolling down my face. This is a very, very dark book, and not for the feint hearted. It's also a brilliantly told tale of the excesses and foolishness of the British music industry during the boom years of Brit Pop. I must reread it again soon.
Phil Jones
This is a story about a music industry A&R man, Steven Stelfox in 1990's London. It's incredibly detailed and insightful, I'm not sure if the Author John Nivenworked in the industry but he has captured it brilliantly. An industry full of southern, obnoxious, cocaine addled gobshites whose self deluded ego's allow them to dismiss almost everyone else on the planet as losers.
Our anti hero is a racist, sexist, homophobic, capitalist bastard who will stop at nothing to get to where he wants to
When I started this book, I wrote this early review:

"I hate to be this guy, the guy who starts trashing a book before I’ve even read the whole thing. But this one has provoked strong thoughts that may lead me to discontinue this one.
I can do black comedy, I can do crass, I can do raunchy, I can do vulgar. What I can’t do is mean. Or mean-spirited.
I’m only 20 pages into this book but here are impressions so far: this tale of a British record Company “A and R” (“artist and repertoire”) man is choc
Shona Macdonald
I picked this up in a bookshop whilst waiting for the train and opening it at random, it made me laugh out loud in the shop. On this basis only (and I never do this!) I bought it and before I had gone 20 miles on the train, I was alarmedly realising this was a mistake. It's funny.And for the author's first novel it's impressive in that he is convincing and charges in all guns blazing. But that's not enough to justify me recommending this to ANYONE - the humour is horribly sadistic and nasty, the ...more
Peter Boyle
Not for the faint-hearted this one. It's basically American Psycho if the setting was changed to the British music industry of the late 90s. Steven Stelfox is the Patrick Bateman of the piece, a racist, self-obsessed, drug-fuelled record company executive who hates music and will stop at nothing to further his rise to the top. Stelfox is the anti-hero of the story but none of the other characters are very likeable either - the whole setting is a filthy, chaotic nightmare that seems miles away fr ...more
Steven Stelfox ist A&R Manager in einer großen Londoner Firma aber momentan will alles nicht so recht laufen, sowohl Beruflich als auch Privat.
Immer weiter verstrickt Steven sich in seine üblen Machenschaften und Intrigen und droht in einer Mischung aus Lügen, Drogen und Alkohol zu versumpfen. Doch Steven gibt nicht so leicht auf und greift zu extremen und drastischen Mitteln.

Mit einem Schreibstil und einer ausdrucksweise die treffender nicht sein könnten schreibt John Niven hier über die
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Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Niven read English Literature at Glasgow University, graduating in 1991 with First Class honours. For the next ten years, he worked for a variety of record companies, including London Records and Independiente. He left the music industry to write full time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 (Continuum Press). The novella was optioned for t ...more
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“Yeah, beware the small man... Always beware the small man. He'll fuck you every time. Because they never forget, do they? All that grief they got at school. Over and over, and for the rest of their miserable short-arsed lives, someone's got to pay.” 13 likes
“One thing you'll learn when you're in the business of selling utter shite to the Great British Public is that there's really no bottom to where they'll go. Shit food, shit TV, shit bands, shit films, shit houses. There is absolutely no fucking bottom with this stuff. The shittier you can make it - a bad photocopy of a bad photocopy of what was a shit idea in the first place - the more they'll eat it up with a big fucking spoon, from dawn till dusk, from now until the end of time. It's too good.” 4 likes
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