Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “High Life” as Want to Read:
High Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

High Life

by
3.97  ·  Rating details ·  418 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Fiction. Jack had gone to Hollywood with one ambition: to become famous, a star, exactly how he didn't care. He just wanted to be like the people whose lives he followed in gossip magazines...Instead he found a world more seedy than anything he could have imagined, a world of whores and deceit, snuff shows, incest, drugs-and despair. After his wife, Karen, a hooker, is mur ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about High Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about High Life

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Paul Bryant
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kraft-Ebbing-style researchers
“Roll up, roll up, step right this way” – hey, it’s that guy again! He keeps turning up in my reviews – he’s played by Tom Waits in a bowler hat – (memo to finance department - please don't squander your entire budget hiring cool singer/songwriter/actors to do bit parts in these reviews, I hope they can stand up on their own without such indulgencies) - anyway, what's he saying this time?

“It’s a continuous show, you pays your money and you takes just as long as you likes inside, yes sir! We have
...more
Matt
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly revolting. Almost unspeakably vile. I feel worse every time a pick it up. A great book...
Alan
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
So romantic. Would recommend to blossoming lovers. Truly an inspiring work of fiction. 5/5 would read again.
Paul
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Plot:

Jack's prostitute wife disappears & he later learns she has been found murdered & “gutted like a fish”. Ryan, a sleazy vice cop, takes a personal interest in the prostitute's murder as he was one of her clients. Karen, Jack's murdered wife, confesses to Jack before she disappears, she was paid $30,000 for one of her kidneys & Jack decides to find out who Karen sold her kidney to, as her body, when found, has all her other organs removed. Jack meets an incestuous, wealthy,
...more
Tony
Sep 18, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Stokoe, Matthew. HIGH LIFE. (2002,2008). I picked this book up because it was blurbed by Ken Bruen as follows: “High Life” is perhaps the greatest neglected masterpiece of true noir. I’ve never read anything like it before or since.” Either Bruen never read it, or his critical skills have gone to hell. This is probably the worst piece of trash I’ve ever read. It assails the reader with the grossest, most deviant sexual situations imagineable, placed in the context of a crime novel that aspires t ...more
Deviant-Muse
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not read very much, until now. I have decided to pick up reading as my new hobby. My friend and former English professor suggested this book as my first real read in my new hobby. Wow, what a story to begin with!

I may not write a review like most of the people on here as I am new to this.

This story reads nice and the pace is steady. The story itself starts out with an interesting character named Jack. He goes through various situations that are sick, twisted, demented and at times grotesqu
...more
Chadwick
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this, I feel like Stokoe has just relieved himself into a wound hacked into my abdomen. And that's, in a weird way a good thing. This is a delirious, sickening novel of the nightmare hidden world of fame-addicted Los Angeles. The alternation of nausea and degradation with the surface gleam of the city's media factories hack out the rhythm of a sort of gorgeous deranged poetry, a texture that reads like the unholy union of J.G. Ballard and Raymond Chandler. This is a sick book, and ...more
Michele St. Martin
Just finished it last night on the train going home. If I could give this bitch more stars I would...

What a visceral, fucked-up, shank in the inner guts this book was. I'm trying to remember the last time I read a book so twisted & sick. I have some nasty stuff in my library, but DAAAAAAAYM...

And I want MORE.

Mr. Stokoe, please write some more. I loved this!
Lindy Loo
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the filthiest most graphic thing I've ever read. And yet, it was actually kind of good for what it was. Really nasty noir-type novel.
Michael Seidlinger
This plus watching A Serbian Film for the first time rank in as pieces of writing that leave you feeling as filthy as the whores and sadists chronicled in both stories.
Skardas
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laughably vulgar and disturbing to an extreme degree noir book.
Lenny Wick
A bit surprised by how poor this is. Certainly some set pieces that work for shock value, but much of the book is filler, with maybe about fifty pages of three hundred worth reading. Part of the problem is a central narrative that manages to be utterly boring (who killed the narrator's hateful hooker wife? will he find out? who cares?), but there are writerly issues, as well. Tons of pointless dialogue, pages upon pages of it, and characters that barely register as B-grade on the believability s ...more
ABC Group
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is pretty over the top--in a good way. Akin to Bataille's "Story of an Eye," Stokoe shoots from the hip with a disgusting array of extreme sex scenes...scat, murder, organs, you name it.

It's a great read but not for the faint at heart. Sometimes the narrative suffers from an easy obsession with the more extreme content, but that makes me wonder if that's the point. The inner urges are not ones I can share but I was surprised at how comfortable I became with them by the end. This is my
...more
Adam
Feb 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolute filth! If this had been written several hundred years ago, the author would have been locked up to protect the innocence of society. This is the only modern book I have read which comes close to the spirit of the works of Marquis de Sade. Imagine the most heartless deviant sexual acts combined with gratuitous drug use in a Hollywood setting and you have High Life.
Jason
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Regardless of the atrocious aura this book emanates, it is superbly written. His sentence structure is outstanding, verbose yet not flowery - an inspiration to my own writing. Yes it is a wee bit nasty, but if you know the kind of reads I like, this is a gem!
justme
Nov 19, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I'm a little weary of reading this. I read Stokoe's other book, Cows, and given how disgusting that was, I'm not sure if I want to subject myself to something of that caliber again.

That said, I'm just a little curious...
Bill Williams
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stokoe is brilliant.
Ms. Nikki
This read made me think of the music from Cypress Hill:

I want to get high so high!
I want to get high so high!
I want to get high so high!
I want to get high so high!
Well that's the funk elastic the blunt I twist it
The slamafied (buddafied) funk on your discus
Oh what you messed with you got to bare witness
Catch a ho and another ho Merry Christmas
Yes I smoke shit straight off the roach clip
I roach it roll the blunt at once to approach it
Forward motion make you sway like the ocean
The herb is more tha
...more
Arne
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sexually disgusting noir-trip.
Matthew Stokoe's prose completely got me. The way he describes LA, the way he climbs into the mind of a man so desperate for fame, the way he lets the story unfold,...not a scene seems out of place. Our protagonist Jack is a disgusting pervert at his core, but yet he makes for not only an interesting protagonist but also one you would like to see the story unfold through.
At heart High Life is indeed noir , but Stokoe also delves into hardcore scenes with necrophili
...more
Sabrina
Too much for some, but a fun read.

If you can get through the moments when you find yourself cringing and hoping no one around you knows exactly what you're reading, this is definitely an okay book to pick up.

Much of the often horrific sexual exploits that take place in this novel will make you cringe and almost retch with disgust, but will probably not make you put the book down (maybe once, but only for a minute). Think of the movies Saw, that human centipede one, and a cheap porno all being ed
...more
Charlie
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Matthew Stokoe does it again! Cows blew my mind and "High Life" may have been less surreal and more "realistic" and gritty in some ways but I still don't know how to properly convey my emotions beyond reverence and amazement. Much like cows this is obviously not for the squeamish or faint at heart but..a definite underrated masterpiece. People can rave about chuck palahniuk all they want but people like Matthew Stokoe are the REAL masters!
Glenda
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition


I was torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars because I was concerned if I gave it 4 it would look like I was as sick, twisted and depraved as this book was! Haha There was alot of really sick shit (literally as well as figuratively) in here but the mystery kept me wanting to know who done it!! I could have done without the jackhammer scene and the necro stuff though and I am now worried that there are some really sick people in the world!
Elwycke
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our protagonist is Jack and his blank voice is brought vividly to life by Mr Stokoe who understands noir fiction's rhythm and detached humour.
One can almost hear the sleazy saxaphone riffs blazing through our anti-hero's sojourns into darkest (and brightest) Hollywood. None of it is any good and that makes it all the more attractive!
Joseph
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Stokoe by reading Cows, which I heard was just over the top insanity (and it was, in all the best ways.) After that joyride, I needed more. High Life is just as crazy, but in a different way. The gore and raunchiness isn't the focus though; the story is really compelling, and I found myself unable to put the book down - I just wanted to know how things were going to play out.
Michele
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished it last night on the train going home. If I could give this bitch more stars I would...

What a visceral, fucked-up, shank in the inner guts this book was. I'm trying to remember the last time I read a book so twisted & sick. I have some nasty stuff in my library, but DAAAAAAAYM...

And I want MORE.

Mr. Stokoe, please write some more. I loved this!!!
Andrew Nolan
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Worth it just for the last sentence alone.
Fab
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well written.Similar to American Psycho, but only to an extent.Perhaps more frightening because the drivers here (sex, money)are top current values for (almost)everyone.
George Huxley
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well. That was......... Interesting. Classic Stokoe, not as good as Cows most definitely, but a good piece of noir. Not a great ending. But I liked the murder! Among other things.
Dennis-p.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the honesty and reality of this book made me shiver and read on
Joel
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this book doesn't show 'grace' in depictions of brutality it was strangely compelling.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Frisk
  • Hell on Church Street
  • The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism
  • Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials
  • A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews
  • The Bighead
  • The Beast Within
  • Empire of the Senseless
  • Maximum Gaga
  • Theory of Religion
  • Giallo Fantastique

Fiction Deals

  • Daughter of Sand and Stone
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
    $6.24 $1.99
  • The Silver Suitcase
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ilsa: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Into the Free
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Persian Boy (Alexander the Great, #2)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Get It Together, Delilah!
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Mademoiselle Chanel
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette (P.S.)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • If I Ever Get Out of Here
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Woman on the Orient Express
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Isabella: Braveheart of France
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Whiskey Sea
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Bette Davis Club
    $4.49 $1.99
  • A Life Intercepted: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Epitaph
    $9.74 $1.99
  • How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Bergdorf Blondes
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Bendigo Shafter (Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures): A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Invisible Emmie
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Something Like Family
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Orphan Master's Son
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Sisters One, Two, Three
    $4.99 $1.99
  • This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
    $15.95 $1.99
  • The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Tenth of December: Stories
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Daughters of the Night Sky
    $4.99 $1.99
  • New York
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Yellow Star
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Miramont's Ghost
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Am Livia
    $3.49 $0.99
  • The Play of Death (The Hangman's Daughter, #6)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Requiem for a Dream: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Eagle Tree
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Helen of Sparta (Helen of Sparta #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Things That Keep Us Here
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Halsey Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Woodlands (Glenbrooke, #7)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Knockoff
    $8.99 $2.99

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I'd done it, I'd crossed the line between accepted behavior and behavior most of the population would consider a lynching offense, and that morning I felt as real as any of the men in the Escape commercials. It had been dirty and nasty but I wanted more.” 2 likes
“He parked his car carefully, made sure he'd set all the locks and the alarm. On the steps he kept looking behind him, snapping glances into shadows like he expected this to be a set-up with my gang waiting to roll him. Nervous. But I got this feeling the possibility of danger was all part of it for him. What he wanted was something with an edge to it, something stamped as unmistakable bad.

Welcome to the club, dude.”
1 likes
More quotes…