The

Mick

Sinclair

Archive

Pete Davies

February

1986

NME

feature

 
 
"THE FIRST thing I said to my agent was 'no artsy bollocks'. I'm not interested in writing Literature. It seems to me that novels should have a social function. There's a need for moral outrage to be expressed at this time and writers are equipped to do that. For me it's a compulsion and a duty to write that way."

The man with the mission is Pete Davies, a former advertising copywriter, whose newly-published first novel The Last Election paints a bleak picture of a Britain ten years from now, when medical progress has resulted in a mushrooming pensioner class.

The government of the day (The Money Party) does its best to reduce the OAP burden with daily doses of a drug that has startling but short-lived rejuvenative qualities - it may encourage the over-60s to dance the night away in clubs, but soon a general physical disintegration will take place, including the random failing-off of limbs. No matter, a populace satiated by a 24-hour TV diet of snooker, pop videos and party political broadcasts is placated with a free cremation service.

Health service closures were a prime motivation for the book, according to the 26-year-old author.

"I had to set it in the future because I felt people wouldn't accept it as a picture of the present, but as far as I'm concerned these things are already happening. You might say I'm exaggerating, but I'd say I'm picking out and highlighting."

A running theme throughout the novel is the way in which the advertising industry manipulates the media and thereby public opinion during the run-up to an election. Davies spent two years with an ad agency, penning copy to sell toasters, tampons, showers and paint, and the way in which the novel creates instant images and zaps them into the mind shows how the experience shaped his style.

"I didn't not enjoy my time there. It was incredibly good training in the economic use of words. Advertising copy can be very effective writing. There's a good deal in the book to do with the mechanisms of the industry. I'm not saying that an election would actually be run in that way, but perhaps it's closer to the truth than a lot of people would like to admit."

 

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