HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE by Toby Young

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Kiss-and-tell memoir of Young's ill-fated stint as contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine.

When we first meet our hero, he is desperately attempting to gain admittance to the 1994 Vanity Fair Oscar party, the most exclusive ticket in Hollywood on the night of the Academy Awards. Not that he is truly starstruck, Young says. No, he has adopted this attitude in response to his British circle's sham indifference to celebrities: “I hammed up my obsession with A-list stars as a way of letting my friends know I found their pretence at insouciance totally unconvincing.” This contrary attitude coupled with romantic notions about Algonquin Round Table journalism eventually delivers Young, the son of towering English intellectuals, to the New York offices of Vanity Fair, where he attempts, mostly unsuccessfully, to make a splash. Editor Graydon Carter is unimpressed with his story pitches; a barroom brawl results in Young's name being removed from the masthead; and an uninformed Young hires a stripper to come to the office on “Bring our daughters to work day.” In between detailing his own failures, Young dishes his friends and colleagues (for some reason, Anthony Haden-Guest is given a particularly rough time of it), moans about what serious wankers his workmates are (the Vanity Fair offices are compared to an accounting firm), and brings Tocqueville's observations about Americans to bear on contemporary culture. This skewering of celebrity worship at the nation's leading “upscale supermarket tabloid” bears a distinct resemblance to shooting fish in a barrel; nonetheless, Young's language is energetic and engaging, making one wish (along with his father, apparently) that he'd find a worthier subject.

Enjoyably bitchy specifics of Condé Nast culture, buried beneath tedious social analysis and self-deprecation.

Pub Date: July 4th, 2002
ISBN: 0-306-81188-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Da Capo
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionAMANDA WAKES UP by Alisyn Camerota
by Alisyn Camerota
IndieDRUG OF CHOICE by Mark Van Stratum
by Mark Van Stratum
FictionTHE LAST MAGAZINE by Michael Hastings
by Michael Hastings