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How To Lose Friends & Alienate People Paperback – 18 Jul 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (18 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114859
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Toby Young--columnist and former co-editor (with Julie Burchill and Cosmo Landesman) of The Modern Review--portrays himself as a man pulled to the New York media set by twin desires: to trade one-liners with modern day Dorothy Parkers and Robert Benchleys over very dry martinis, and to drink Cristal from a supermodel's cleavage in the back of a limo. In the event, neither is fulfilled and desire shows itself up to be the snake that eats its own tail--endless and ultimately encircling a big fat zero.

How to Lose... is Young's own telling of his disastrous five-year career in New York journalism, initiated when he is offered a job at Vanity Fair, Conde Nast's flagship star-fest. Young may have been hired for his snappy prose, but his real genius turns out to be antagonising the rich and famous. He is the British bulldog in the Armani-clad china shop of the politically correct glossy posse. He hires a strip-o-gram on bring-your-daughter-to-work day, commits the cardinal sin of asking celebs about their religion and sexual orientation, gets blasted on coke while trying to do a photo shoot and spends less time pulling up his chair to the modern day equivalent of the Algonquin table than trying to blag his way past "clipboard Nazis" barring his way into showbiz parties. Oh, and he gets sued by Tina Brown and Harold Evans. This is the place, he soon discovers, where greatness is measured not in your prose stylings, but how far up the guest list you are for Vanity Fair's Oscar party. But two things raise this particular loser's story above the crowd. First is his spot-on outsider's inside observations on phenomena such as the rigidly Austen-ite New York dating scene. Second, he has the columnist's knack of connecting everyday experience to social politics in order to grind both personal and political axes. In the adoration of the celebrity aristocracy by the masses, he sees the realisation of de Toqueville's warning of "the tyranny of the majority" and witnesses, for those lower down the food chain, the corruption of the "be all that you can be" meritocracy America promises. If these are soft targets, then the hilariously toe-curling experiences that lead him to take aim are well worth the price of a cocktail. --Fiona Buckland --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book (Julie BURCHILL)

This man, Toby Young, is a rat and a snake and, to hear some tell it, also a raccoon. He deserves all these nasty blurbs (Dave Eggers, author of A HEARTBREAKING WORK of STAGGERING GENIUS.)

In How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Toby Young--columnist and former co-editor (with Julie Burchill and Cosmo Landesman) of The Modern Review--portrays himself as a man pulled to the New York media set by twin desires: to trade one-liners with modern day Dorothy Parkers and Robert Benchleys over very dry martinis, and to drink Cristal from a supermodel's cleavage in the back of a limo. In the event, neither is fulfilled and desire shows itself up to be the snake that eats its own tail--endless and ultimately encircling a big fat zero. (How to Lose... is Young's own telling of his disastrous five-year career in New York journalism, initiated when he is offered a job at Vanity Fair, Conde Nast's flagship star-fest. Young may have been hired for his snappy prose, but his real genius turns)

Fiona Buckland, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Lets get one thing clear from the start there are many things to dislike about Toby Young but his writing should not be numbered among them. He does not come out well from this autobiography but that is to his own great credit: he may be a despicable little s*** but at least he’s honest. It is so refreshing to read something in which the author's mistakes, both of judgement and character, are not excused or explained and the whole is not endlessly self serving. I’m sure that in actual fact the whole exercise was designed to raise his profile and so actually it is self serving but it never gets irritating.
Not only his writing funny and incisive but when he moves beyond the self deprecating anecdotes he is capable of some pretty serious insight. This is not just a tale of his fall from grace with the Manhattan social system but his view of that system as he falls. Of course much of his complaints can seem like the self justificatory carping of the loser but Young is honest enough to face up to this. His insight into the American Dream and the hidden but powerful class system in New York are important and worthwhile. His comments are given some historical grounding in his repeated referencing of de Toqueville. Some readers may find this irritating but for me it provided the core of the work.
His own personal redemption through Caroline and his return to England were contrasted with the emptiness of the drug fuelled celeb gazing that had characterised his life on both sides of the Atlantic. His writing in these sections contained a tenderness that was at odds with the barbed comments that characterise the rest of the book and more effective for it.
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Format: Paperback
It is very difficult to like Toby Young (on the basis of this book or his frequent appearances as a talking head on TV shows), however this is a very good and entertaining book.
It tells the story of Toby Young's time in New York working for Vanity Fair magazine. Toby Young is an interesting, if not particularly attractive, character. He is a very strange mixture of high brow and base instincts coupled with a rather adolescent sense of humour and an amazing ability to offend both intentionally and unintentionally. He seems very self-aware in reflection but is clearly unable to use this self-awareness in the heat of the moment. At times he seems to suffer from 'Roger Rabbit' syndrome - he must say it because it is funny (at least to him) regardless of the consequences.
Toby Young arrives in New York expecting to the presented with a smorgasbord of attractive women bowled over by his English accent, evident (at least to him) intelligence and his celebrity connections (from his position at Vanity Fair). This does not happen. He expects to have a brilliant career at Vanity Fair but he finds the office politics difficult (because he is not a believer) and his sense of humour and capacity of foot in mouth constantly land him in trouble. He becomes obsessed with celebrities but demonstrates a total lack of ability to talk to them in interviews or social situations - a bit of a problem when working for a celebrity magazine. He finds many aspects of life at Vanity Fair distasteful and cannot keep his mouth shut about them leading him inexorably towards the door.
Toby Young comes from the great British tradition of intellectual scepticism (lapsing into cynicism and negativity) and through this filter he is often startlingly perceptive about Vanity Fair, New York and the USA in general.
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By A Customer on 21 May 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have read in years. Observant, witty, clever and absolutely hilarious. Young also has quite a serious point to make about American and Western culture and illustrates this with great intellience and skill. Of course it is no literary masterpiece but no one expeted it to be. It's a damn good read and is strangely educational at times. I wish I could read it again for the first time (although the second was nearly as good).
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Format: Paperback
A pretty funny and occasionally endearing book.
It is a little bit hard to feel sorry for Toby Young. He goes to America to try out his dream job working at Vanity Fair, and finds out it is not all he thought it would be. Reading this book confirms how shallow 'fashionable' culture really is and was, for me, a window into the lives of some pretty empty people. Rather than actually doing something usefull, the staff of VF and the parasitic circle that orbits celebrities spend all their time perpetuating the myth that there is something special about them.
Toby realises this and consequently doesn't fit in. Instead of rising to the top of the heap as a hard-hitting hack, Young sinks without trace and is reduced to writing for an American version of Loaded on the effects of wigs when out on the pull. Having failed professionally, he does find love, unsurprisiingly with an English girl, and comes home. End of story. Not quite 'Down and Out in Paris and London'.
But its not all as simple as that. There are some interesting mini-essays on the differences between the UK and American class systems and a tear-jerking retelling of his mother's death, so you do feel you may have learnt something or grown a little by reading this book.
Good stuff before bed or on the bus and if you're British it will reaffirm that that is much better than being American.
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