“Toby’s like a piece of gum that got stuck to the bottom of my shoe.” – Graydon Carter

The Sound of No Hands Clapping
Saturday 19th August 2006
The Daily Telegraph published part one of its serialisation of my new book today. To read it, click here.


Review in The Hollywood Reporter
Friday 11th August 2006
The Hollywood Reporter published a nice review of The Sound of No Hands Clapping this morning. To read it, click here.


Clip from A Right Royal Farce
Friday 11th August 2006
Here’s a series of clips from a Right Royal Farce, mine and Lloyd’s new play at the King’s Head. If you want to view them in chronological order, start at the bottom and then work your way back up. To put them in context, it might help to read the press release, too (see button to the left).


Clip from A Right Royal Farce
Friday 11th August 2006


New York Times Review
Wednesday 19th July 2006
The New York Times carried a good review of The Sound of No Hands Clapping today. Here it is in full:


Learning to Succeed as a Loser, on Two Continents


When last spotted, at the end of his memoir “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” Toby Young was slinking out of Manhattan, a ruined man. Fired as an editor at Vanity Fair and banished from the Eden of American celebrity culture, he threw in the towel and returned to London.

Mr. Young, I am happy to report, learned virtually nothing from his American misadventures. “The Sound of No Hands Clapping” finds him once again madly pursuing fame and riches, worshiping the same false celebrity gods, and in general making an absolute fool of himself. For readers, this is very good news. Mr. Young’s pain is their gain.

This time around Mr. Young fails on two continents. He flails away in London, where he just might be Fleet Street’s most-fired journalist, and then, seduced by Hollywood dreams, takes a wild stab at starting a screenwriting career in Los Angeles.

Humiliation beckons at every turn. He writes a biweekly magazine column for The Spectator called “No Life.” The editor kills it. On assignment for a women’s magazine, he pays a hugely embarrassing visit to a penis-enlargement specialist. In a sweaty bid for media exposure, he agrees to be interviewed on the BBC about his collection of X-rated videos. It does not go well. “You’ve turned into Paris Hilton,” his wife tells him. “Is there nothing you won’t stoop to?”

The answer is no. Mr. Young craves attention, and he will do anything to get it. He adores celebrities and wants to be near them. When he moves from Greenwich Village, the sense of loss tears him apart. His apartment is across the street from Gwyneth Paltrow’s.

He is entirely unashamed about this. “Why wouldn’t a person want to be famous?” he asks. “Celebrities are at the top of our society’s food chain. They live in the grandest houses, dictate the latest fashions, and enjoy unlimited sexual opportunities.” So there it is, the Young worldview, a source of wonderment even to Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, who could never quite believe that Mr. Young was actually English.

Failure is Mr. Young’s calling card. It works for him. “How to Lose Friends” attracts the attention of a big-shot Hollywood producer who decides that Mr. Young is just the man to write a screenplay about a famous but repellent record producer of the 1970’s. “Mr. Hollywood” remains anonymous — Mr. Young fears reprisals — and the film is never made, but in a single magic moment Mr. Young plunges right back into his element, and the usual round of missteps and miscalculations.

Mr. Young savors his humiliations like fine dinners. There’s the time he forgets his passport and tries to board an airplane using a Blockbuster Video card, and the stag weekend before his wedding that his best friends do not bother to attend. Most writers try to forget bad reviews; Mr. Young clips out the really painful bits for rereading. “Toby Young is a balding, bug-eyed opportunist with the looks of a punctured beach ball, the charisma of a glove-puppet, and an ego the size of a Hercules supply plane,” he quotes one British critic as writing. “And I speak as a friend.”

Most of the wounds are self-inflicted. Half drunk, he tries to corner the film producer Harvey Weinstein at a party to deliver a pitch. A beefy security guard deposits him on the sidewalk outside. Experiencing a brief midlife crisis, he embarks on a solo camping trip in the Welsh mountains in the middle of a snowstorm. During the night he steps away from his campsite to urinate and gets lost. Only the ringing of his cellphone back in the tent saves him. It’s his wife, calling to see how he’s getting along.

“I couldn’t really understand why you kept doing such dumb stuff,” Mr. Hollywood’s assistant tells him after reading his first book. “I mean, you just kept on doing it, over and over and over. What’s with that? It’s like you had Tourette’s or something.” Yes. It is very much like that.

There are, however, disturbing signs of growth. Mr. Young still wants to be famous, but he has decided that he would like to be famous for doing something artistically worthwhile. In London, scene of so many reverses, a one-man play based on “How to Lose Friends” makes a small splash and transfers to the West End, where Mr. Young replaces the original actor and plays himself. He’s no Olivier, but he holds his own, and so does the play.

Mr. Young tries mightily to disguise his achievements, but fortune insists on smiling. He collaborates on another play, which does well. He marries and fathers two children. The domestic chapters, interwoven with the Hollywood material, present a softer, almost endearing version of the author, who searches for but does not find flip comic material in his children. Instead he discovers new sources of love, commitment and satisfaction. This is wonderful for Mr. Young, but death to the comic persona he has created.

True, he agrees to pose naked to promote his book. But by the end of “The Sound of No Hands Clapping,” twin specters loom: success and happiness, with no celebrities attached. Mr. Young loses interest in Mr. Hollywood, and in Hollywood. He likes staying at home with his kids. The franchise is finished.

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