The Sound of No Hands Clapping by Toby Young (Da Capo), 264 pages, $32.95 cloth. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Toby young, a celebrity-obsessed name dropper, is so preoccupied with his own celebrity that he posed nude to promote his first book, How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. A more Brit if not more butch Devil Wears Prada, it recounted in humorous detail the two years he spent as a glorified photo caption writer for Vanity Fair until he was fired.
This lint-picking follow-up describes the fallout from writing a tell-all, the worst of which seems to be VF's refusal to write anything about it.
Young also comes away with not one but two offers from Hollywood to write screenplays, including an adaptation of his book and a biopic about a notorious 70s music producer that he intends to model on either Wall Street or Scarface. Large chunks of Clapping deal with the scriptwriting process, something only an aspiring screenwriter would possibly care about.
While Young relies heavily on the Hugh Grant school of self-deprecating wit, he's not nearly as clever and hardly as funny. And his puddle-deep musings on marriage and fatherhood seem tacked on and serve only to provide the rather flimsy growth arc the script gurus say is required to create a compelling character.
It's revealed early on that Young became a journalist because it seemed like the least amount of work for the most amount of money, and it shows in his writing.
Had he trimmed all the draggy boring bits and the touchy-feely stuff that seems rather a stretch for him, the remains would have made a suitable piece for the very magazine from which he'd been fired in the first place.