How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

It took me two months to finish this book, it’s not particularly difficult, taxing, or long (329pg)…. it’s just, it’s really easy to put down and pick up something else.

A true account, it’s about a British journalist who comes to America with the intentions of stalking (or infiltrating) an idealized celebrity class while simultaneously exploring the notion that the entire industry of celebrity culture here is utterly ridiculous. Yet, a phenomenon even he finds intoxicating. He makes an ass of himself at every turn, which I find endearing, and relatable. I don’t understand the appeal of the Kardashian family, I think they’re completely disrespectful and uneducated. Still, they’re beautiful and richer than anyone I’ve personally known so I’d probably gawk with the best of them if we crossed paths. Isn’t that the part that stings?

I read an article for a sociology class about the lack of myths in our culture, you know compared to other booming cultures through time. My take is that this is creating a void we’re stuffing by following the lives of celebrities because we find them successful in ways we’re not despite the fact that they’ve done very little to earn/deserve that success. The Jersey Shore cast is rich and several have written books that became best-sellers… Isn’t that horrifying? That people think they actually wrote that book!? Separate tangent, the real-life Carrie Bradshaw does not marry Big, she marries the Russian! These falsehoods are dangerous lessons to be throwing about! but, I digress.

So, he writes about working at Conde Nast and the people of the “Devil Wears Prada” sort of magazine world. He shakes it up by pulling stunts like… hiring a stripper at the office the same day as bring your daughter to work day. Classic. Anyway, he whirls through a myriad of poor choices in both his career and personal life only to end up back in England status quo dating a normal (non-celebrity/aspiring model/fashionista) woman. In the end I felt like I’d probably find him amusing, as a person, that we could perhaps be friends, but his writing just isn’t compelling.

I really think it was a best seller just because he exposed what goes on behind the scenes at offices like… Vogue. Who wants to know what goes on and how people really are? Every person who is even remotely associated with or fascinated by fashion magazines. Also, the people who resent them. Boom. Big readership.

Still, props to you Toby Young… for so unabashedly running head first into humiliation and having the guts to cop to it afterward.

Three stars.


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