Bonfire of the Brands by Neil Boorman.

An odd hybrid of addiction memoir, pop-sociology soapbox and incendiary blog

Book Review by Debbie Martin | 07 Nov 2007
  • Bonfire of the Brands by Neil Boorman. ONLINE VERSION
Book title: Bonfire of the Brands
Author: Neil Boorman.

Have brands replaced personalities? Do we really pay more attention to the labels people wear than what they say or do? And is our choice of footwear really an accurate indicator of our lifestyle and aspirations? Neil Boorman seems to think so. Bonfire of the Brands charts the journalist and music promoter's journey from self-confessed brand junkie to 'Nu Austere' anti-brand-brand (think Naomi Klein, Muji and Adbusters). After a lifetime's obsession with labels, Boorman self-diagnoses himself as a "brand addict" and visits a therapist who can't decide if his plan to burn his entire wardrobe on a giant bonfire in Central London is an act of catharsis or a cheap attention-seeking stunt. The reader is never quite sure either.

This book is an odd hybrid of addiction memoir, pop-sociology soapbox and incendiary blog. It's possible that Boorman has created a new genre and that the brand malaise memoir is the latest trend in publishing, so beware of the overhead peril of wannabee writers flinging their Nikes out of the window. To his credit, Boorman is quick to acknowledge the irony of the publishing industry's packaging of his project for mass consumption. However, shopping for overpriced chutney at farmers' markets and using toilet roll rougher than the Dead Sea Scrolls is hardly going to yank capitalism to its knees. Boorman's commitment to his mission is admirable, yet his failure to offer readers any sensible plan-of-action means that he is in danger of appearing like yet another neurotic Londoner with too much time on his hands. [Debbie Martin]

Out Now. Published by Canongate. Cover Price £12.99 Hardback.