• Dilettante

  • True Tales of Excess, Triumph, and Disaster
  • By: Dana Brown
  • Narrated by: Dana Brown
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (103 ratings)

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Dilettante

By: Dana Brown
Narrated by: Dana Brown
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Publisher's Summary

A witty, insightful, and delightfully snarky blend of pop culture meets memoir meets real-life Devil Wears Prada as listeners learn the stories behind 25 years at Vanity Fair from the magazine’s former deputy editor

Dilettante offers the best seat in the house into the workings of one of the great cultural institutions of our time.” - Buzz Bissinger, New York Times bestselling author of Friday Night Lights 

Dana Brown was a 21-year-old college dropout playing in punk bands and partying his way through downtown New York’s early-'90s milieu when he first encountered Graydon Carter, the legendary editor of Vanity Fair. After the two had a handful of brief interactions (mostly with Brown in the role of cater waiter at Carter’s famous cultural salons he hosted at his home), Carter saw what he believed to be Brown’s untapped potential, and on a whim, hired him as his assistant. Brown instantly became a trusted confidante and witness to all of the biggest parties, blowups, and takedowns. From inside the famed Vanity Fair Oscar parties to the emerging world of the tech elite, Brown’s job offered him access to some of the most exclusive gatherings and powerful people in the world, and the chance to learn in real time what exactly a magazine editor does - all while trying to stay sober enough from the required party scene attendance to get the job done. Against all odds, he rose up the ranks to eventually become the magazine’s deputy editor, spending a quarter century curating tastes at one of the most storied cultural shops ever assembled.

Dilettante reveals Brown’s most memorable moments from the halcyon days of the magazine business, explores his own journey as an unpedigreed outsider to established editor, and shares glimpses of some of the famous and infamous stories (and people) that tracked the magazine’s extraordinary run all keenly observed by Brown. He recounts tales from the trenches, including encounters with everyone from Anna Wintour, Lee Radziwill, and Condé Nast owner Si Newhouse, to Seth Rogen, Caitlyn Jenner, and acclaimed journalists Dominick Dunne and Christopher Hitchens.

Written with equal parts affection, cultural exploration, and nostalgia, Dilettante is a defining story within that most magical time and place in the culture of media. It is also a highly engaging memoir that skillfully delivers a universal coming-of-age story about growing up and finding your place in the world.

©2022 Dana Brown (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Dilettante is a salute to an industry and its practitioners, those who were making a meaningful cultural contribution even while they were trying their damnedest to drain Condé Nast’s fathomless expense account.”Shelf Awareness

“I got to work with Dana Brown when I was asked to edit Vanity Fair’s comedy issue. As I got to know him a bit, I kept thinking—Oh the things he’s seen! While Dana was too discreet to tell me the good stuff back then, I’m so glad he’s chosen to share it all now in this amazing, insightful, and funny memoir.”—Judd Apatow 

“Dana Brown’s unlikely rise to deputy editor of Vanity Fair is a fairy tale. But if he started out as a dilettante, he became much more than that, shepherding culture-defining stories into the pages of America’s glossiest monthly. Impossible to put down, Dilettante is an irresistibly juicy memoir.”—Nancy Jo Sales, New York Times bestselling author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers 

What listeners say about Dilettante

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I don’t even know where to begin

If you have lived in New York, worked in media and are 40/50 it’s impossible not to love this book. I have replayed chapters, laughed out loud, shook my head at the relatability and sad comedy of it all. Magical.

2 people found this helpful

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Fun! My New York!

This was a such a satisfying “read” and one of the few with an author who knocks it out of the park with his narration skills.a skillful joyride through the last 25 years of New York’s elite and those who chronicle them. I loved every minute.

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Love, Love, LOVE Dilettante!

As a former radio DJ, I always question an author who voices their book, but I gotta say, Dana Brown was the ONLY one who could do it and was great. I was a SPY magazine subscriber and a VF subscriber, so very fun look at VF and the inner workings. Can’t say enough and highly recommend this book!

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a homage to graydon carter

kept thinking story written by graydon carter
was sure if inwas wasn't reading a spy magazine story

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  • mc
  • 10-12-22

spoiled brat

self aggrandizement taken to new levels; and lousy narration - makes this tedious at best.

1 person found this helpful

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A nostalgic romp through 1990s and 2000s NYC

Dana Brown sprinkled that new-kid-in-town wide-eyed magic about living,hustling, and making it in New York in your 20s. His anecdotes of lavish parties and mingling with the upper echelons of society as an outsider, and working with an imposter syndrome resonated strongly with my own experience as an art museum worker. Having been schooled across the Atlantic from the 1990s to early 2000s, I was surprised and delighted to learn of Brown’s friendship and camaraderie with the late British restaurant critic A A Gill, whose bitingly witty reviews I used to pore over in the Sunday Times. Brown also captured with painful accuracy what it was like to live through the rapid change in the media landscape in the 2010s. I look forward to hear what Dana Brown is up to next!

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It goes nowhere

It's an exciting story about a young man going from sharing a shower in the living room of an NYC sh!thole, to a world of celebrities, parties, drugs, and alcohol, but the book goes nowhere. He's going to the Tunnel, he didn't know who Lee Radziwill was, but again it goes nowhere.

This performance could have easily been pared-down to 3 hours.

1 person found this helpful

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Dilettante is a blast

Super synaptic and fun story on late 80s/90s NY, emergence and cross pollination of hospitality, media, publishing worlds, and the theatrical characters in it. 10/10.

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Left me longing…

Like the author, I too grew up at 350 Madison, starting my career exactly a decade before him as an assistant to the fashion director at Vogue. I too failed the typing test ( 40 words a minute as I very vaguely recall) but slipped in because Sarah Slavin needed to fill that empty seat immediately - timing being everything, I got lucky.
This beautifully written, wonderfully narrated book was a nostalgic trip for me, bringing back a flood of memories that made me ache for those extraordinary times, places and people. A love letter to an era that can never be again, about an almost mythical industry that’s hard to believe ever existed at all (it’s all true- exactly as I remember it)
It’s funny and bitchy, touching and honest- I binged it and hungered for more. Hopefully Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock etc ( one of the behemoths who caused the sad end of this tale) will give me more by making it into a series so I can binge it once more.
Loved it. Thank you Dana Brown.

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Dana Brown did not F it up.

A look back at a familiar time through a long lost lens. A must for anyone who enjoyed Grayson Carter’s Vanity Fair.
A marvelously written memoir.