Jonathan Cape, £14.99 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop

A Great Big Shining Star, By Niall Griffiths

This novel offers a bleak take on our appetite for celebrity and the new face of fame

We might not quite live in the future Warhol predicted, where everyone is famous for 15 minutes, but certainly the nature of fame is changing. As reality TV shows and print and online scandal sheets demand ever more celebrities, it seems to be undergoing a process of hyperinflation. The word "celebrity" seems to be detaching itself from the mothership of fame to become a near-synonym of the lesser "personality".

The teenage heroine of Niall Griffiths's new novel is one of those whose consumption of Closer, Grazia and the rest builds a lust for access to that world that comes to seem almost like a sense of entitlement. Gracie Allcock is pretty enough, but with a nose job, then a boob job, why shouldn't she have what Katie Price has, or at least Jodie Marsh?

The book opens with a gruesome description of a rhinoplasty ("The spike was removed and replaced with a spatula-thing… another masked man took up a 3 lb hammer") that neatly prefigures Gracie's true entry into celebrity. This comes when her agent despatches her to a particular nightclub, on a particular night, where she is "harvested" and then "roasted" by a trio of Premiership footballers. Readers unfamiliar with these terms may wish to look them up on urbandictonary.com. Or they may not.

Mobile-phone footage of the incident ends up on YouTube, and the celebrity machine kicks into action: tabloid exposure, photo-shoots, revenge interview with ex-boyfriend, hanging out with pop stars. In truth, there is not much in the Gracie's story that is revelatory, or even really compelling. There is little of the insight to the "entertainment" treadmill that Andrew O'Hagan showed in his novel Personality (based on the life of Scottish child star Lena Zavaroni) but then celebrities don't really have to "entertain" any more, just get on with their miserable lives and be papped while doing it.

To be fair, Griffiths is less interested in the experience of celebrity from the inside than in the mindset of the people who lap it up. This is where the second narrative voice comes in, that of 42-year-old Kurt, failed father and caretaker at the local primary school. He remembers Gracie when she was an innocent eight-year-old, and he watches her progress with a horror that doesn't preclude him drunkenly masturbating to "her" video clip.

It is his apocalyptic rages at the iniquity of humankind in general, and himself in particular, together with his lyrical absorption in the natural world – of frogspawn, cuckoo spit, a dragonfly drying its wings after emerging from its nymph: "dusk-light in the lacework, twilight in the tracery, the abdomen long and thin and striped yellow and black like a racked wasp" – that carry the book beyond being the bleakest of jeremiads. Griffiths's incantatory style has always been his strongest card, and it is put to good use, but it's a shame that the ending seems equally familiar from his previous books.

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific