Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings
By Craig Brown
Simon & Schuster, 2012. 356 pgs. Nonfiction
Hello Goodbye Hello could be considered the literary equivalent of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Brown begins by telling of the afternoon when John Scott-Ellis, a British peer, ran his car into Adolf Hitler, followed by John Scott-Ellis’s childhood walks with Rudyard Kipling, and on to Kipling’s meeting with his hero, Mark Twain. And so these little vignettes go, one meeting leading to another. Familiar names include Marilyn Monroe, Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Harpo Marx, Mick Jaggar, Queen Elizabeth, and Walt Disney.
I think the most fascinating aspect of this odd book is how real the people represented seem. They have prejudices, grudges, and insecurities that show in strange ways as they interact with one another. Originally published in Britain, some names will be unfamiliar to an American audience, but even without the celebrity these brief interactions display a fascinating view of how peoples’ lives cross and collide.