Can you imagine more unlikely meetings than these: Marilyn Monroe and Frank Lloyd Wright; Sergei Rachmaninoff and Harpo Marx; T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx; Madonna and Martha Graham; Michael Jackson and Nancy Reagan; Tsar Nicholas II and Harry Houdini; Nikita Khrushchev and Marilyn Monroe? They all happened. Craig Brown tells the stories of 101 such bizarre encounters in this witty, original exploration into truth-is-stranger-than-fiction.
This book takes the 6 degrees of separation to a whole new level, and the connections made are not only highly hilarious they are also very moving. It begins with Adolf Hitler meeting John Scott-Ellis, and adds link to a chain that includes Laurence Olivier meeting J.D. Salinger, and so on until we come full circle and end with The Duchess of Windsor meeting Adolf Hitler.
The concept the Author had in mind for this book is very clever and witty, so it makes for some amazing stories, some more interesting than others, but you can skip around with no fear of losing the plot. Found in the author’s note is one of the strange but true aspects of this book; each of the meetings is documented and nothing is made up; that there are 101 meetings related; each is told in exactly 1,001 words, which makes the book 101,101 words long, and the very author’s note explaining this is 101 words.
Each story (meeting) is about 3 pages long and is marked as being a chapter. However, this is not the kind of book you want to read straight on from start to finish, and you need to stifle the urge to read aloud sections to anyone who will listen due to the many interesting and little known trivial facts about the famous people contained within its covers.
Regardless of whether or not the Author is writing recycled rumours and urban myths, they are interesting. After all, who doesn’t like to see that ‘celebrities’ are just ordinary folk with a bigger bank balance? This book reveals them warts and all, from bad behaviour and drug & alcohol abuse, to wanton sexual experimentation and anti-social behaviour. The author doesn’t make many moral judgements.
I enjoyed this book, but only as one I could dip in and out of, and one that was able to spark some kind of dinner table conversation. It doesn’t take up a lot of your time, and would therefore make a good travelling read or one to have on you when waiting for an appointment instead of locking into those ‘smart’ phones.