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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People [movie tie-in]: A Memoir Paperback – September 2, 2008


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Life with Harper Lee
Invited to live as her neighbor, Marja Mills offer unprecedented insight into the reclusive author's life in The Mockingbird Next Door. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Media tie-in edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681613X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306816130
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,977,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The appeal of journalist Young's memoir is his willingness to skewer himself as savagely as he does his acquaintances and colleagues. The self-portrait is rarely flattering and sometimes repellent, but carries a startling ring of truth. Young targets Manhattan's superficial social scene and gives a slashing insider's view of Vanity Fair and its parent company, Cond‚ Nast. Consumed with the desire to be "somebody," Young is hired by editor Graydon Carter and unwittingly offends everyone he seeks to impress. He learns that journalists must have "a plausible manner, rat-like cunning and a little literary ability," and he encounters a caste system so rigid that if an important editor trips and falls, etiquette dictates to leave her on the floor and walk on, rather than offer assistance or directly address her. Young's description of his efforts to crash Oscar parties is an appallingly accurate picture of wannabes whose identity depends on the celebrities they cultivate. He's amusingly perceptive in his analyses of women whose motive for marrying prominent men is to impress other women; this jealousy is brilliantly summed up by Gore Vidal's comment, "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little." British-born Young, who has also been fired from the Times of London and the Guardian, paints Carter as a fascinatingly complex individual, capable of devastating employees or helping them face dire health problems. He also includes intriguing profiles of power couple Tina Brown and Harry Evans, and Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell. What keeps readers on Young's side is his courage to keep fighting, even when confronted by publicist Peggy Siegal's withering line, "I have no respect for writers. They never make money. They're like poor people looking in the windows."
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Inspired by Hollywood classics such as The Front Page, British writer Young longed to move to New York and work as a journalist for a glossy magazine, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. He jumps at the chance for a tryout with Vanity Fair magazine and eventually lands a tenuous position. But he's disappointed to learn that, compared with British reporters, American journalists are sycophants, slavering over celebrities and cozying up to publicists. Still, because he is so enamored of New York, he thoroughly enjoys his stay. Eventually, however, his admittedly juvenile pranks and failure to adapt to the culture, as well as his excessive drinking, end his career at Vanity Fair. Now on the fringes, freelancing for British publications, he manages to offend the powerful media couple Tina Brown and Harry Evans, triggering a lawsuit that is later dropped. But the contretemps actually helps to boost his career. This thoroughly humorous memoir provides a scathing portrait of the egomaniacal world of New York media and an insightful look at modern American celebrity culture. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I tried to enter some facts about myself here, but every time I hit "Save Changes" I got an error message saying, "The text entered may not contain profanity." It didn't, but no matter how many suspect words I deleted, I got the same error message. I guess my life is such a godawful mess, that merely trying to describe it constitutes a "profanity". If anyone's interested, they can check out my Wikipedia entry.

Customer Reviews

It's not the worst book I've read all year, but it still only rates 3 stars.
Lee Engler
It seems that this book is a testament that the author is not meant to write something so lengthy; quality over quantity.
carly r
The problem that I have with the book is this: It feels like Toby was under the gun to finish it really quickly.
Crepe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 75 people found the following review helpful By David Ljunggren on July 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It is very rare these days that I find a book engrossing enough to read in one sitting and which also makes me laugh out loud. Toby Young, who has an unerring ability to focus on his own shortcomings, does an excellent job of explaining exactly how not to get on in New York. His waggish personality, a healthy appetite for drink and a large stock of off-colour jokes -- all attributes which would serve you well as a journalist in London -- ensure he makes a total mess of pretty much everything he does in Manhattan, the mothership of all that is politically correct in the United States. Indeed, when Vanity Fair boss Graydon Carter fires Young, he tells our hapless hero that he has a brown thumb. "Everything you touch turns to ****," he explains with a laugh. Young is the squarest of pegs in a world where all the holes are round and to make matters worse, a friend of his who went to Los Angeles at the same time strikes immediate and lucrative success. Young is also very funny about his total lack of success with American women, largely because they quickly realise he is broke (and has quite a few complexes, as well as an impressively large collection of appalling pick-up lines). Two-thirds of the way through, the book suddenly becomes more serious as Young realises he has hit rock bottom and starts groping for a way out. To say much more would give too much away but it's well worth sticking through to the end.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a clever book. Ignore the provocative title - Brits are trained from birth to jettison friends and loved ones and skilled alienation is in their DNA. (I think it's also stipulated in the Magna Carta).
This is the witty memoir to jolt us out of Alertness Fatigue and all the government-induced 9/11 jitters essential to keep us focused on Saddam-bashing.
Here's this self-effacing Brit arriving in the Big Bagel to take Condé Nast by storm and canoodle with the celebs - and he totally flubs it on every front. Any self-respecting dude would pack up and go sell matches down Nacogdoches way, but not them blue-bloods. The Honorable Toby Young pauses only to fire up the word processor and - shazam - he's got a hot book out of it that also wreaks hilarious revenge on those who rejoiced in his downfall in the first place.
The book amuses wherever it falls open: the list of words banned by the Canuck airforce brat editor of 'Vanity Fair', Graydon 'Powerstrut' Carter; Young's brilliant idea for an profile of ubiquitous partygoer Jay McInerney as a notorious recluse à la Salinger or Pynchon; belletrist GW's winning way with the "clipboard Nazis" at the Bowery Bar; the major babes in the C-Nast elevators, sizing each other up "with the cold-blooded hostility of professional athletes", pouncing on any perceived fashion disaster with disapproving comments ranging "from the fairly mild - 'Aggressive choice!' - to the outright rude - 'It ain't working, honey.'"
"Alienate" abounds in such gems, delivered with a sure pen and sharpest ear and with that killer diffidence that makes your upper class Oxford type so dangerous to turn one's back on.
Nor is it just a catalog of TY's pathetic inability to bed any of this great country's Grade 1 beauties.
Read more ›
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By FizzyBlonde on July 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Toby Young manages to combine gossip, farce and social commentary in one terrifically well written book. While he makes sport of many famous media folk, he doesn't spare himself. This book reads like a primer on how NOT to behave in media circles, with many laugh out loud passages detailing Young's spectacular social and professional blunders. If you are extremely politically correct, this is not the book for you. And if you take offense at any critiques of the American way of life, you won't exactly see eye to eye with Young. I found the book insightful and refreshing, especially during this period of too often blind patriotism. Young writes about Graydon Carter and Alexis deTocqueville with equal facility, and manages to make all of it interesting. You start out thinking Young is a big jerk, but by the end, he's won you over.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Movahedpour on December 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Toby Young certainly does lose friends and alienate people in this sometimes interesting, sometimes boring memoir of his life as an English journalist in New York. The most interesting parts of the book relate to his stint at Conde Nast (or "The Conde Nasties") working for Vanity Fair magazine, and his clashes with the editor, Graydon Carter. Young is fired after two years, and it is really no surprise. Young does not play the game, finds his sophomoric antics humorous, and just doesn't seem to fit in at the glossy magazine.
Toby Young's life during this period is pretty depressing. He can't hold down a job, is threatened with a lawsuit by Tina Brown, and is even fired by Bob Guccione, Jr. Toby Young does not try to paint himself as anything other than he is; a middle aged, balding, short, anti-social alcoholic with a poor work ethic. He compares the UK and New York endlessly, and complains of not being able to "get laid" in New York City, because the women are "shallow." However, he is equally shallow in judging the women he does date, and he treats them very badly, then wonders why they "dump him."
Toby Young is an unapologetic jerk, yet his book does have some appeal. It is interesting to view the world of Manhattan and its social structure, the publishing world, and the view of an outsider on what makes it tick. There are some interesting tidbits, but Young often stretches things to fill space. He could have told these stories as a series of essays, making the book half its size and twice as readable. It ends up being very difficult to find the enthusiasm to finish the book, but, you want to know what happened to this fellow, anyhow.
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