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

3.2 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Roger Ebert, "Chicago Sun Times," 10/02/08"I have been a follower of the real Toby Young for years. He is much more preposterous than "Sidney Young," the hero of this film, which is based on Toby's memoir...He is a very funny writer, often providing inspiring material for himself...."How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" is possibly the best movie that could be made about Toby Young that isn't rated NC-17...In a boring old world, such people are to be prized."

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.

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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: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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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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Format: Paperback
OK - I really enjoyed this book. At its best Toby Young's "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" is utterly laugh out loud funny. I honestly can't remember a book where I have literally cracked up so many times. (Colbert's book made me laugh too - but not this kind of out loud public sniggering on the train that made others notice me in an embarrassing way). The best bits are when he takes on (and names names) the peacock culture of the big Conde Nast culture mags and their ab fab brass and human adornments. He's also justifiably famous for his celebrity party antics (which specialize in gate crashing and then being ejected by bouncers). Time and again he blithely justifies himself stepping way out over the line and getting himself into classic scrapes - lapses of taste and judgment - and humiliating jams of a dizzying variety. An incredibly high percentage of these episodes are just "rilly rilly" funny (I'm an American and that's how I say it - in alliterative Toby lit). His evolving envious relationships with Alex De Silva and Graydon Carter are recurrent themes in the narrative; as well as his literary, social, and sexual ambitions. His madcap ways, clever use of recurrent themes, and deft comic timing are a big part of the comic goodness. The fact that Toby's a great writer doesn't hurt either.

This comic achievement makes me more tolerant of the parts that weren't so good... Like the parts where Toby's sour grapes about not getting laid makes him expound pedantically on the shallowness of the New York glitterati maidens he chooses to pursue. I mean - who's really being shallow here? Then there's his plunge into full blown alcoholism... There are comic moments but much of it is actually genuinely tragic. In the latter chapters when Mr.
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