Sex and Drugs Fuel Party Prose

Monday Magazine | July 6, 2004
Can’t afford that sex-and-drug-fueled European getaway you were hoping for this summer? No worries. By the end of the first chapter of UK author Niven Govinden’s debut novel We Are The New Romantics, you’ll feel just as grimy and sketchy as if it’d been you, and not Eurotrash protagonists Amy and DJ, who’d been snorting, stealing and shagging your way across the continent. By way of example, here’s the opening sentence: “Last night, I fell out with Amy when she caught me sucking off her boyfriend under the table of some stinking Euro-pop club in not so gay Paris.”

And really, that’s about it for the rest of the book. Oh sure, something of a plot eventually develops involving DJ’s descent into drug peddling and Amy’s search for a relationship, but for the most part it’s 200-odd pages of girl-gets-high, boy-fucks-boy, let’s-skip-out-on-our-bill tawdry slice of life stuff.

Govinden, himself a just-barely-30 Londoner, has obviously followed the old “write what you know” axiom, as New Romantics is simply crammed with insider knowledge that only an aging raver would have. But had he spent as much time on the plot as he did referencing club music (“It was one of those electronica dos that gets all the dance freaks, all Prodigy this and Orbital that”), pop culture (“He was like a student from Fame hooked on crack”) and drugs (“I can’t understand why anyone would want to take Ecstasy these days, let alone sell it”), he might just have something here. As it stands, however, New Romantics lands squarely in the hoping-to-sell-the-film-rights category.

Mildly compelling and somewhat entertaining (albeit in a sleazy, voyeuristic way), We Are The New Romantics hardly qualifies as good literature . . . but if it’s been a while since you’ve hit a circuit party and you’re looking to recapture some of your trashy youth via an equally trashy novel, you can’t do better—or worse—than this.

Monday Magazine

Founded in 1975 to provide a critical voice in Victoria's political and cultural communities, Monday Magazine continues to shake British Columbia's conservative capital city with tell-it- like-it-is features and reviews. Targeting educated, active adults and Victoria's growing youth market, Monday...
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