Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

John King

By Dutch on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 05:49 am
John King was born in the 1960s in London. He started writing for fanzines. In the early nineties he had his own fanzine called Two Sevens. His debut novel, The Football Factory. is about football violence around London-based Chelsea FC. The book sold over 200,000 copies and will be brought out as a movie in the near future. Headhunters is the loose follow up of The Football Factory and is about five guys having a sex league. The last book of this trilogy is England Away. The story includes the football violence backdrop and focuses on English supporters travelling to Berlin via Amsterdam to see the Germany-England game. The trilogy attracted a lot of media attention. Irvine Welsh called King "The author of the best books written on English culture since the war", but there was loads of negative criticism as well.

King's characters are often comprised of two contrasting sides. They are brutal and rough on one side and insightful and funny on the other. After the trilogy, King started working on his fourth novel. Human Punk became, in my opinion, his best book. It's a story about a fifteen-year-old boy, Joe, who grows up in a London satellite town in the late seventies. The book contains many references to punk music. The story then jumps to 1988 where we find Joe traveling back by train from Beijing to London. The last part of the book takes place in 2000 as we are reintroduced to the satellite town of Slough. His latest novel, White Trash, is about nurse working in a new-town hospital.

Punk music and the Skinhead books of Richard Allen influenced King. When he was younger he did read some beat works and liked the fact that the beats were bringing something new to literature, but ultimately preferred writers like Hubert Selby, Jr.

Like Irvine Welsh, Roddy Doyle and Alan Warner, John King is considered a repetitive beat. Steve Redhead introduced the term 'repetitive beat' in his book, The Repetitive Beat Generation. John King is one of the fourteen British fiction writers of the nineties interviewed in this collection that reveals the influence of pop culture and musical experimentation on many popular young novelists.

King still lives in London and he is currently working on a collection of stories and two future novels.
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