How to Alienate Readers, Too

Book cover for How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young

Toby Young: What a cock

Book Review: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

I bought this book because the title caught my eye, and the quotes on the cover were divine:
“I’ll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book” – Julie Birchill

However, having read this all the way through – I agree with the various nay-sayers on the cover, and would like to hit Toby Young about the head with a hardcover copy of this memoir.

It would be safe to say Mr. Young doesn’t really get it. When writing yourself as the cute, laddish fool – firstly you have to actually be likeable, and secondly for fuck’s sake never make the kind of zany little blunders that may – for example – risk your girlfriend getting raped. Yes, you read that right.

Toby Young presents all his brazen idiocies as lovable mistakes. Perhaps to him they are. To me, and I suspect most other readers, you need to warm to the protagonist a whole lot more before you let him get away with half the shit that Young does. And does repeatedly.

You know that obnoxious, arrogant, knuckle-dragging friend-of-a-friend you probably have to deal with down the pub every now and again? Well one of them’s managed a media career, and thanks to this book you can now read the world from his point of view. It doesn’t make much more sense than it did down the pub, but at least this one hollers less, and you can put it aside whenever he becomes to much.

Don’t get me wrong, it was educational, too: I now know to not turn up to my first day of work wearing a t-shirt that says “Young, Hung and Full of Cum.”

The frustrating thing is that there is an intellect fighting to get out. Some of his analysis of transatlantic differences are interesting and valid, as well as his analysis of the illusion of meritocracy – it’s just that these glimpses are so severely overshadowed by all his antics/arrogance/all-round arsery that this book, as a whole, is best left alone.

God knows how they managed to turn this into a romantic comedy with that nice Simon Pegg in it. I suspect it involved some industrial cleaning to remove all traces of Toby Young’s noxious personality.

Originally appeared on Goodreads


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