Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I recently finished reading How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young. I was intrigued by the book because Toby Young was actually a guest judge on Top Chef last season, one of my absolute favorite TV shows. He would always come up with the weirdest comments, and even though the descriptions were entirely outlandish, they always made sense. Reading his memoir only proved to me that these comments are actually backed up by an intelligent, yet ridiculous, mind. Basically Toby talks about his time spent in New York City trying to be a big fish in a big pond and how he fails miserably. Not only are his experiences rather interesting, sort of a male, true life version of The Devil Wears Prada, but really funny and youthful. Toby has no problem being self-deprecating and sarcastic.
The memoir included a little extra something for me, though, because Toby is a British man who came to America and experienced the subtle, yet highly influential, culture differences. Since I just did the opposite journey myself quite recently, it was interesting to see how a Brit felt when encountering American culture, especially Manhattan culture. While I found Londoners to be incredibly kind and accommodating, Toby found Americans to be really snobby and impolite, which doesn't surprise me in the least.
The stereotype that British people are stuck up really seemed quite wrong once I spent some time in England. Sure they are extremely sarcastic and have a really dry sense of humor, but so do I! I almost felt like maybe my humor fit in a little bit better there. Toby, unfortunately, never really felt like he fit in. While many Americans, like myself, are always really excited to come across a Brit in the United States, apparently there are fewer of us than I thought! Toby felt like he would be applauded for his charm, yet found that Manhattanites were not really phased, or interested in the slightest, with his nationality.
Even if you haven't experienced the culture differences for yourself, this book is a great read. It all takes place in Manhattan and is a description of one hilarious anecdote after the next. Even though Toby describes himself as a total putz, you can't help but root for him the whole way through. I won't tell you how it ends though- that would ruin the whole thing! Do read it, its wonderful!