How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, by Toby Young

July 26, 2011 at 17:33 (Biography, Book Reviews, Comedy, Poorly Rated Books) (, , , , )

4/10

Presumably, the people Toby Young intends to alienate begin with his reader. From the outset, this memoir is a roiling swirl of bile-swilling vitriol, snivelling obeisance, hedonistic abandon and smug, unapologetic, arrogant gittiness. The book is like a headache wrapped in Monday mornings, and leaves you with a pressing urge to brush your teeth. Oh, it is gritty and full of swagger, and in a certain light could be described as being clever and funny. It contains no laugh-out-loud moments, and the places where Young demonstrates his familiarity with the English ability to laugh at oneself (which he readily and unashamedly comments on) are unfortunately undone by his obsequious and cringing attitude towards the very people he professes to despise, and the very targets of this book’s most bitter acid.

What?

“Of course, I didn’t admit that the reason I wanted to come to America was because I wanted to plunge headfirst into the cesspool of celebrity culture.”

-How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Throughout the book, Young makes repeated attempts to kowtow towards his idiotic cartoon of a boss, lampooning the fellow’s tantrums and humourlessness while wheedling and slobbering shamelessly about the kindness and generosity of Graydon Carter the Just. Even his unavowed enemies are mocked, and then buttered up, until the whole sorry mess seems more like an insincere apology than a biting satirical exposé. There are a few attempts later in the book to reflect on life, the universe and meaningful relationships, and Young’s schoolboy attempts at psychoanalysis demonstrate that, in between the bootlicking and the tirades, he is making an effort to write something serious. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really come together, and the book trails off into some sort of existential cul-de-sac.

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