It’s easy to hate Royal Young, author of the new memoir, Fame Shark: Tales of a Lower East Side Hustler. Young tells his own story of living in the squalor of the Lower East Side and documents his numerous attempts, some sad, others over the top ridiculous, to taste anything of fame. He is young, brash, pretentious, mean, judgmental, and unabashedly self-aggrandizing. With an artist dad who seeks to live vicariously through his son and a therapist mother who administers tests on her boy, Young appears to buy the great American lie of the last forty years: you are unique. From the earliest of ages, desperate to be on screen, even more desperate to just be the center of someone’s attention, ultimately the world’s attention.
You would hate Mr. Royal Young if he wasn’t so damn honest and endearing about it all. He isn’t asking for sympathy or empathy, or even support. He knows how grating he can sound and doesn’t care, and this is where his genius lies. As much as this is a memoir, like every good memoir, it straddles the line between fact and fiction. This book is the recording of a life as much as it is a hilarious and often poignant performance, a chance to follow an obsession tol the end of its rope.Celebrity, Judaism, and the Lower East Side: An Interview with Royal Young