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Hello Goodbye Hello: a circle of 101 remarkable meetings.


British humorist Craig Brown is a regular columnist for London's Daily Mail and the satirical magazine Private Eye, as well as the author of several books.


THE TOPIC: "He was fat and ugly and had warts on his face and he growled," revealed Marilyn Monroe after dining with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at Hollywood's Cafe de Paris in 1959. "Who would want to be a communist with a president like that?" From diaries, memoirs, biographies, interviews, and obituaries, Brown has amassed the eye-popping details of 101 oddball encounters. Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot, for example, quarreled about Shakespeare's King Lear. Princess Diana and Grace Kelly commiserated over the pitfalls of stardom. H. G. Wells declared that Josef Stalin was one of the most honest and upright men he'd ever met. By turns hilarious, scandalous, cantankerous, awkward, and touching, these vignettes hop from one celebrity meeting to the next, forming a "six degrees of separation" chain across the 19th and 20th centuries.

Simon & Schuster. 384 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9781451683608

Cleveland Plain Dealer [EXCELLENT]

"If such fare fascinates you, Craig Brown offers 100 more encounters involving the famous (and sometimes infamous) in Hello Goodbye Hello, a light lark of celebrity-gawking. ... The author writes that everything here is documented, and tucks in an extensive bibliography, but many of the books cited are celebrity biographies, which require a side serving of salt." CLINT O'CONNOR

New York Times [EXCELLENT]

"Instead of using his celebrated gifts as a parodist in these pages, Mr. Brown chooses a straightforward narrative voice that proves as pliant as it is entertaining. ... He has whipped up a gratifying summertime confection--funny, diverting, occasionally sad." MICHIKO KAKUTANI

Wall Street Journal [EXCELLENT]

"What makes the book work so well is Mr. Brown's eye for the eccentric or telling detail. He observes humanity with a sly and droll sense of the absurd. ... Hello Goodbye Hello is a hilarious book, clever and thoroughly researched." MOIRA HODGSON

Washington Times [EXCELLENT]

"In the hands of award-winning London columnist Craig Brown, though, Hello Goodbye Hello is not just a delicious, gossipy romp through some of the most famous faces of the 20th century--although it certainly is that. What we have here is a close-up look at these celebrated folk in some rather surprising situations and connected to even more unlikely fellow celebrities: a refreshingly original look at some of the movers and shakers of the previous century." MARTIN RUBIN

Onion A.V. Club [EXCELLENT]

"Though the meetings themselves range from life-changing to coincidental, enriching to unfortunate, they can't be said to add up to more than the sum of their parts. ... Although Hello Goodbye Hello doesn't rise above whimsical anecdote, it might be the gold standard for bathroom reading." JANET POTTER


A tenacious researcher and gifted parodist, Brown has a keen eye for the absurd, and he parlays an intimate knowledge of human nature into "a saucy stew" that provides "an uncommonly interesting view of life at the top" (Washington Times). Bolstered by helpful background information and engaging asides, his quirky, captivating portraits combine the urgency of journalism with, surprisingly, the whimsy of more lighthearted types of literature. Although the Cleveland Plain Dealer questioned the authenticity of some of Brown's source materials (namely, celebrity bios) and the Onion A.V. Club bemoaned the book's fragmented, encyclopedia-like structure, even those critics enjoyed Brown's lucid prose and fascinating stories. "Dip into this book anywhere," promises the Wall Street Journal, "and you will be rewarded with something delightful."
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Author:Brown, Craig
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2012
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