For several years now, Toby Young has been engaged in an experiment of indeterminate social value. He has been charting his efforts to make a success out of being a loser. His first book, a memoir like this one, told of his failure to break into the world of celebrity journalism at the New York magazine Vanity Fair, and of the partial renunciation of the desire for fame through the redeeming process of falling in love. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic despite the American incapacity for celebrating failure, has been adapted for the stage and, as I write, is waiting to be filmed next year with Simon (Shaun of the Dead) Pegg cast as the hapless protagonist.
The paradox of the Toby Young experiment is well analysed by Toby himself: ‘In the first decade of the twenty-first century – thanks, in part, to the phenomenal success of reality TV – we’ve witnessed the gradual separation of fame and status. These days, being well known doesn’t automatically ensure