Book Reviews

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), October 10, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Book Reviews

Party monster by James St James. Published in paperback by Sceptre, priced pounds 7.99. Out now.

Previously published as Disco Bloodbath but re-released to tie-in with Party Monster, the film based on the book and starring former child star Macaulay Culkin, Party Monster is a tour-de-force worthy of its new-found exposure.

In this confection of the glamorous and the macabre, James St James tells the sometimes stomach-turning real-life story of his friendship with notorious and flamboyant club kid Michael Alig and Alig's drug-fuelled descent into murderous mayhem.

Their days partying in post-Warhol 80s New York are told by James with remarkable clarity considering the drug-soaked nature of their activities.

Their arrogance and disregard for other people is portrayed clearly from the start as Alig, James and cohorts carelessly indulge in a shallow existence of lavish parties, uncontrolled hedonism, drugs, and shameless debauchery.

Alig was the self-appointed King of the Club Kids in the 80s and early 90s, promoting successful parties around New York. High on power and success, as well as an endless supply of drugs, his downfall feels like a matter of time.

But Alig and his flatmate's murder and dismemberment of their drug dealer Angel Melendez is no less shocking for its inevitability, and is all the more disturbing because of the complete lack of emotion apparent in James' writing. It conveys the guiltless mindset of these party monsters and immerses you deep in their alternate universe.


FORGOTTEN VOICES OF THE GREAT WAR by Max Arthur. Published in paperback by Ebury Press, priced pounds 7.99. Out now.

The full horror of the First World War is laid bare here, more effectively than in any other book I've read on the subject.

The "forgotten voices" of the title belong to men and women who experienced it first-hand, and each one presents a compelling and very moving vignette.

Max Arthur's source material comes from a superb library of taped interviews held by the sound archive of the Imperial War Museum in London. He draws from accounts by British, German, American and Australian veterans, and concentrates heavily on the killing fields of the Western Front.

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