19 April 2010

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People

Toby Young's first memoir, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a little bit Love, Actually, a little Bridget Jones's Diary, and a little bit American Psycho, with a dash of The Jerk.

It was funny and pithy (at times) - I did start to feel sorry for the guy.  He was so completely out of his depth in Manhattan's Vanity Fair office that he wore jeans and a t-shirt to the office when told it is "casual".  And sent a strippergram for a friend's birthday...but it happened to be "Take Your Daughters to Work Day", too...and just generally had some bad luck.  Methinks off-the-wall, sarcastic, un-superhot dudes generally don't fare well as self-referential, boot-licking celebrity magazines.

Best chapter in the book:  when Toby and his office mate start speaking dude-slang about trying to get the office nitwit into bed.  Hysterical.

What did bother me was the final chapter where Toby makes a blanket statement about how meritocracy in the United States is complete bollocks because it doesn't work.  I know his dad wrote The Rise of the Meritocracy (and coined the term) but Toby's reference for the US is New York society/celebrity and Hollywood.  Not a good litmus test for the other 85% of the country, aka the "fly-over states" as put in the book.  Here's a meritocracy story for you:  my father is the son of a self-employed auto mechanic and volunteer fire chief and my mother is the eldest child of a self-employeed businessman who built his business from scratch.  None of my grandparents went to college but both my parents did.  My father is a very respected system safety engineer and my mother is a parish administrator.  I have one advanced degree and am going back to school for another while my brothers are both college-educated (as are my sisters-in-law) and they are all gainfully employed.  If meritocracy doesn't work, as Young seems to think, the lot of us would've been stuck in rural Illinois either in jail (because that's what happens when you're a no-hoper) or working at the Handimart.  We all got where we were because of hard work, opportunity, and the ability to network successfully.

No comments:

Post a Comment