Review: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young

Six months ago, my site was flooded with thousands upon thousands of spam comments. Rather than laboriously deleting all 20,000 of them, I’ve decided to republish the posts that were the worst culprits. This post was first published on Oct 24, 2004.

Am currently reading Toby Young's How to Loose Friends & Alienante People and have decided to put aside Marion Zimmer Bradley's stories about Darkover for the tale of the fall of a great man (in his head, that is).

In essence, How to Lose Friends is a long, well-written gossip rag about the glitzy going-ons behind Vanity Fair, a particular magazine I'm rather fond of. And we all love gossip - especially one that mentions a certain well-known draconian Vogue editor.

I'm talking about Anna Wintour, in case you're not in the know. Some of us in the journalistic world take perverse pleasure at novelists ribbing editors, especially those with a reputation like Wintour's.

Wintour is one difficult lady, according to Young and to popular legend. It is suspected that the author of The Devil Wears Prada based her portrayal of her novel's cruel boss on Wintour - she was once one of her assistants.

Indeed, after reading Young and Lauren Weisberger's account, I find some similiarities. But I can't remember them off-hand now to list them for you right now. But I can tell you what makes Wintour so "ballsy" to say the least.

According to Young, Wintour lives like a Queen (she is paid a cool US1mil a year) and uses the company's petty cash account like her own Swiss bank account, she doesn't ever ride in the elevator with anyone (except maybe the Queen of England or anyone worth sucking up to, I suppose), gets annoyed if anyone talks to her without her permission, yada yada yada.

She makes one of my old bosses - the one I worked with once upon a time in an ad agency not so far away - look like my fairy godmother.

But hey, maybe Wintour will one day rise up and write a tell-all biography on how wrong Young and Wesberger is. (Shrug)

For now, we common folks without Prada to wear can enjoy the gossip.

PS: Another book on bosses behaving badly worth checking out could be The Nanny Diaries. It's currently sitting in my library, unread. But after Young's deconstruction of the politics in Vanity Fair, I'd possibly be more hungry for Bad Boss Lit - so it's probably next on my To-Read list. Also, Sydney Morning Herald has a piece on Bad Boss Litt. Is it the Next Big Genre? Chick Lit, after all, is so yesterday.