How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Toby Young's ruminative work on social psychology, popular culture, the workplace hierarchy at Condé Nast in the 90s, and generally being unable to relate with people is a raw nerve, honest, and very British-ly self-effacing story that is VERY different from the 2008 movie.
As the son of Michael Young, who coined the term meritocracy long before his son Toby would come to be, well, sort of sidelined and knocked down by the cultural interpretation of it, Young offers an academic insight into the knock down, drag out head butting experience he faced as a journalist working for Vanity Fair.
In reading this book you might, at times, come to despise Young as much as it seems most who encountered him did, you'll also be impressed by his insight, his intertextual sociological connections, and his rather breathtaking ability to delude himself. Can a book written about one's delusions still leave one delusional?
I think I may have read the book a bit more seriously and with less of a cultural context than its intended audience, due to my age (I was 5 when the book opens) and sense of humor, which is quite malleable, thank you. Less funny, more cry for help, to me.
All in all, great book. Young does in this work what he reminisces about the hacks of NYC in the 30s did, what Graydon Carter did in The Spy but then quit, and what Young himself had set out to do: make fun of Hollywood from the inside. Sort of.
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