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The Trouble Boy

The Trouble Boy

3.7 9
by Tom Dolby

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In the tradition of Bright Lights, Big City and Less Than Zero, Tom Dolby has written a searing debut novel about going after what you really want without losing yourself in the process. Powerfully written, keenly felt, The Trouble Boy heralds an exciting new voice in fiction.

"This is about fame and celebrity and the lengths to


In the tradition of Bright Lights, Big City and Less Than Zero, Tom Dolby has written a searing debut novel about going after what you really want without losing yourself in the process. Powerfully written, keenly felt, The Trouble Boy heralds an exciting new voice in fiction.

"This is about fame and celebrity and the lengths to which people will go to have a taste of it. . ."

At twenty-two, Toby Griffin wants it all--fame, fortune, an Oscar-winning screenplay and a good-looking boyfriend by his side. For now, what he's got is a freelance writing job at a tanking online magazine, a walk-up sublet in the East Village and "the boys," a young posse of preppy Upper East Siders with a taste for high fashion, top-shelf liquor and other men.

But for Toby, downing vodka cranberries and falling in and out of lust with a series of guys he knows as Subway Boy, Loft Boy and Goth Boy is getting old. That all changes when Toby gets the chance of a lifetime--working as a personal assistant to hip, ruthless film mogul, Cameron Cole. In this decadent, drug-fueled world of VIP lounges, endless networking and relentless hype, Toby discovers that nothing is what is seems and that anything and anyone can be spun into PR gold. Though he's making friends with all the right people. Toby realizes that succeeding in Manhattan isn't as easy as he thought--until the one tragic night that changes his future forever and puts him in a position of power he never could have imagined.

But with Toby's name suddenly becoming Page Six material, his life is coming unglued. And as his professional contacts betray him and his friends reveal troubling secrets, his choices become that much harder--and that much more important. Now, in his first year on his own, Toby Griffin is about to learn the price of getting everything he ever wanted.

"What really makes Toby's world so familiar--along with the author's lively, often-hilarious eye for even the most mundane social details--is the crisp prose and the snappy story."

The San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial Reviews

Christopher Rice
The Trouble Boy is an expertly observed and deeply unsettling debut. Tom Dolby has the sharp urban sensibility of a Candace Bushnell and the unflinching gaze of a Bret Easton Ellis. His first novel is a scathingly accurate portrayal of what it means (and what it doesn't mean) to be gay, in your twenties, and always in danger of being taken off the guest list.
New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Garden
Publishers Weekly
A Yale-educated gay freelance writer navigates the shark-infested waters of Manhattan hoping to score a screenplay deal and a loyal boyfriend in this hip and sexy if predictable debut novel. The son of an upper-crust clothing designer, young Toby Griffin is plagued with acne and depression, but gets lucky when he's hired to be a nightclub reviewer for a struggling Web site and quickly becomes a "nightlife contender," impressing new friends Jamie, Donovan, Brett, David and Alejandro. Though the social scene is all about hooking up, Toby does manage a dinner date or two, but most end disastrously, including one with an egotistical former Real World cast member and another with a sleazy Polo store clerk. When both the Web site and an exciting proposal to co-write a memoir by transsexual performer Lola Copacabana fizzle out, Toby begins work for hotshot producer Cameron Cole. A premiere party with lots of cocaine and booze sets the stage for a deadly Lizzie Grubman-style "accident" and a coverup that tests Toby's allegiance to his glitzy cohorts. As the media spotlight shines on Toby, he begins to lose interest in his tour of hot nightspots filled with cool Mr. Wrongs. Will our almost-charming hero ever find someone worthy? There are few surprises here, but Dolby's writing is smooth and his flashy scene-setting spot-on. Agent, Jandy Nelson. (Mar.) Forecast: This is a notch above other novels in the genre even the hunk on the jacket is tastefully posed and could win Dolby a solid following. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

The Trouble Boy

By Tom Dolby

Kensington Books

ISBN: 0-7582-0616-X

Chapter One

Two weeks after I moved to New York, I met Jamie Weissman at one of those parties where people don't talk to anyone they don't know already. The living room of the Chelsea apartment was packed with girls in headbands and guys with banker butt, a condition that afflicts first-year investment analysts who spend too much time at their desks and too little time at the gym. We were in the gayest neighborhood on earth, but it wasn't that kind of party.

I knew I had worn the wrong thing when my plaid clam-diggers, perfect for the early September heat, were met with sneers from a group standing in the hallway. Most people were wearing khakis and I looked like I was ready for the beach.

In the kitchen, I poured myself several fingers of vodka and mixed in some off-brand cranberry juice. A guy in a pink Polo shirt and glasses with tortoise shell frames came up to me.

"Ever get the feeling you're at the wrong party?"

I looked down at him quizzically. His curly chestnut hair was receding, more like a thirty year-old's than someone who was probably twenty-two, twenty-three tops.

"Oh, never mind," he continued. "Sometimes I just say whatever comes into my head. I'm sort of ADD that way. I take Ritalin for it."

I never understood people who bragged about the meds they were on. I had been taking sixty milligrams of Paxil every day for the past four years to combat my depression, but I didn't go around telling people about it.

"Hey, can you pour me some of that?" he asked.

I poured him some vodka, and he dropped in a few ice cubes.

"You want a mixer?" I held up a bottle of tonic water. I thought it was obnoxious when people drank booze straight to show off.

"Naw, it's a taste I acquired at prep school. Gets you drunk faster."

"Where'd you go?" I asked. I had gone to a small boarding school in Connecticut, the kind whose glossy catalogs were featured in The Preppy Handbook.

"Oh, it was in Jersey. I was a day student. Actually, most people were day students. But we played all the other prep schools." He sipped his drink. "You're not part of this Princeton crowd, are you? 'Cause I've never seen you before."

"I went to Yale," I admitted.

"Ecch, New Haven."

New Haven was a place where your car would be broken into if you left change on the dashboard, but I still hated snobbery about my college town.

We gulped our drinks.

"This is so weird," he said, "hanging out with so many 924 people. It's like work."


"Oh, God," he laughed. He wiped a drop of sweat from his bony forehead. "OK, like the digits on a phone, 429 is G-A-Y, so that backwards is 924, get it?"

"You're gay?" I should have guessed by the pink shirt; no real men wore preppy pink anymore.

"Yeah, aren't you? 'Cause if you aren't, then I've just made a big fucking idiot of myself." It could be fun, posing as straight. Should I hold out a little longer?

"No, I am," I finally said. It must have been my pants that gave me away. "I just didn't expect to meet anyone-"

"Neither did I! When we got here, I was like, fifteen minutes, that's it! And then we get into this conversation with this guy, and before I know it, I've had four vodkas, and I'm like, shit, where did the night go? Come sit with us, we're in the bedroom. You can smoke there." He offered his hand. "I'm Jamie Weissman."

"Toby Griffin," I said, shaking his hand in an odd gesture of formality. I followed him through the living room into the bedroom.


Excerpted from The Trouble Boy by Tom Dolby Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Bart Yates
It's always great fun to watch a character like Toby wrestle with his demons, because you're never quite sure who's going to win.
author of Leave Myself Behind
Melissa de la Cruz
Tom Dolby has concocted a tart, frothy, and tantalizing novel, one that has the snap, wit, seduction, and vitality of a new Bright Lights, Big City. Uproariously funny and unexpectedly poignant, The Trouble Boy is as juicy and delicious as a Manhattan with a twist.
author of Cat's Meow and How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Trouble Boy 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was a complete disappointment. After finishing the book I was left with a feeling of 'so what!?. Characters are superficial and 'plastic'. The 'sex in the city' was more of a 'premature ejaculation in the citadel' and what was lauded as 'juicy' was irrelevant gossip. The author's prejudices against HIV people were insensitive at least, perhaps offensive. ('No matter how fashionable the ads made it look, it didn't get around the fact that you had it. You were dirty, like an infected needle thrown in the trash.' pages 155 - 156).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really spoke to me as a young gay man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Havent finished it yet but so far so good a fun read even if there are quite a few characters and activities that i dont like no different from real life
The_Chuck514 More than 1 year ago
An anonymous poster posted that he "KNOW"s these people, and that that, somehow, validates this book... Well I also "KNOW" these people. They really do exist. The only difference between me and that anon is that I don't think their story deserves to be told, because I've heard it so many times before. If you know these people you know how annoying they are. And the fact that they have "real" problems just like everyone else does not change this. It's hard to feel bad for anyone that superficial in real life, even harder on page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fast and fun book for the beach, or on the airplane. Dolby's descriptions of his friends and coworkers made me laugh because we've all had people like them in our lives. It's fun to compare who you are most like in the book. Are you Toby, our kind-of-messed-up, but otherwise reformed hero? Are you the coworker-witch with the good heart? If you wondered what its like to be part of the 'in' crowd, or want a reminder of what you used to be like not so long ago, then pick this book up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This riveting first novel takes an unapologetic look at the first post-Yale year in the life of cute twenty two year old Toby Griffin, an insecure gay man dealing with the pressures and demands of big city existence. Success in ¿The Big Apple¿ is the goal here, and upon graduation, Toby joins the rest of the migrating Ivy League masses determined to find it. Toby, a child of privilege originally from San Francisco, is a struggling writer with dreams of Oscar winning screenplays and world-wide recognition. He also fantasizes about ¿hooking up¿ with the perfect guy and living in domestic bliss. However, if he doesn¿t achieve these goals ¿like right now¿, he is sure he will be perceived as a total failure by the very society he so desperately wants to succeed in. Inevitably, comparisons are bound to be made concerning, THE TROUBLE BOY and, SEX AND THE CITY, but I am more readily reminded of Tom Wolfe¿s brilliant, THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. The portraits painted of ¿the high-living capital of the world¿ by both these books, while certainly different in scope, are not only spot-on, but fascinating to look at. THE TROUBLE BOY, beautifully integrates human geed and the need for success, with all the insecurities inherent in being extremely young and career driven. The young men and women here walk a very fine line between what they want to accomplish, and what they have to do to accomplish it. Integrity still has a place in this fast paced world, but quite often these players have their blinders on to it. This wonderful ¿slice of life¿ piece of fiction is full of candid observations and truths about big city life and aspirations. While the book is painstakingly realistic, it still remains blatantly hopeful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolby does a masterful job capturing that emotionally precarious year after college in the big city. And he does it with a universal voice...this is not 'gay lit'; it's a joyride for anyone who has said to himself, 'my life is a novel.' Best of all, Dolby has a breezy style that makes Toby and friends a pleasure to spend time with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being an author accused of being a member of the gay mafia whose books come across ¿as if there¿s nothing ¿gay¿ worth reporting anywhere between New York City (on the East Coast) and Los Angeles and San Francisco (on the West Coast)¿, I wasn¿t at all put off by people who warned me that this book by Tom Dolby was the same old gay-literati propaganda ¿ ¿nothing gay worth writing about between NYC and LA and SF.¿ If I discovered, in the reading, that this book¿s characters are exclusively bi-coastal inhabitants (although I do believe I came across one character FROM South Carolina)¿if I discovered that the majority of the characters were the product of money, prep and Ivy League schools¿if I discovered that the majority of the characters are screwed up, on designer drugs, on prescription drugs, wear designer clothes, drink only the ¿in¿ drinks, play at only the ¿in¿ spots, are self-centered, usually not kind, genuinely unlovable¿if I discovered the main character contemplated suicide and is only kept from depression via chemicals and, like most everyone else in the book, is the product of a dysfunctional family¿what the heck!? I KNOW these people. They, or their counterparts, actually exist. Their stories deserve to be told, just as much as does the story of some farm kids, coming to sexual awareness within the cornfields of Kansas. So, I recommend this one to anyone who lives in New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco: you¿ll have a blast saying to yourself, ¿Hey, I know someone just like him!¿ I recommend this book to anyone who lives in the cornfields of Kansas, or anywhere else in the vast gay wasteland (just kidding about ¿wasteland¿, guys, in that even I have characters from middle-America¿s New Mexico as chief protagonists in my SS MANN HUNT): you¿ll have insight into just what you can expect if you ever decide to forego sexual exploration in the barns and potato fields of rural America to sample big-city (but not necessarily better-city) living. If Dolby¿s portrayal of the urban gay and his life-style isn¿t always flattering or pleasant, it is always pretty much right on the mark.