tell-all memoir, by Toby Young

A friend gave me the 2001 tell-all memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, by Toby Young, because she found it amusing, and thought her celebrity-conscious friend (blush) might enjoy it too.

I did, and I didn’t. I  somehow wanted to take a shower after reading it – not so much pertaining to the celebrity-worship factor, as to Young’s seedy and “sotted” (he is a drunk) character. He deliberately chose a self-deprecating stance, which actually became grating not ingratiating after a while. I guess because his true stance – he thinks very well of himself – kept surfacing.

It was fun to learn more about the magazine scene in New York city, and more about Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, one of my favourite if guilty reads. Carter is Canadian born. He makes director James Cameron sound self-effacing and retiring. Whoa, if even half of what Young reports is true, what an ego!

At any rate, my overall feeling about the book is…so what? The “wit” is nasty and the story tawdry. I’ll allow that Young made a pleasant dollar with it, and became a household name in the NY magazine world for a very short while. He’s back in England now, though, having scorned the world he so desperately wanted to shine in – and never truly succeeded in. Perhaps the most interesting parts for me were Young’s observations on the differences between American and British cultures. These were acutely noted and rang true in my experience.

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