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One on One [Kindle Edition]

Craig Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Praise for ‘One on One’:

‘These wonderfully gossipy but penetratingly truthful accounts don’t always show human nature at its best or most compassionate. But those who find gossip not only highly entertaining but also highly revealing about the most complex thing we know of in nature- ourselves- will relish One On One form the first chapter to the 101st’ Sunday Times

‘For those who know Brown as a parodist, this book will come as a surprise. Though often very funny, it’s a work of straight non-fiction whose great virtue is not excess but restraint… A hugely enjoyable book that looks with affection and melancholy on the whirring roundabouts of history and celebrity, and reminds us that the paths to glory lead, handshake by handshake, pratfall by pratfall, to the grave’ Sam Leith, GUARDIAN

‘The book describes real encounters. Truth being stranger than fiction, many of them are every bit as bizarre as Brown could have invented, and some are as funny… This is much more than a comedy book’ SPECTATOR

‘It is partly a huge karmic parlour game, partly a dance to the music of chaos – and only the genius of Craig Brown could have produced it’ EVENING STANDARD

‘Marvelously inventive and witty … it’s hard to imagine anyone who could do it better. He has an acutely attuned comic ear, an unmatched eye for spotting the absurdities of human behaviour and a bloodhound-grade nose for sniffing out phoniness and pretension. You couldn’t wish for a finer exponent of this literary parlour game’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

Product Description

101 chance meetings, juxtaposing the famous and the infamous, the artistic and the philistine, the pompous and the comical, the snobbish and the vulgar, each 1,001 words long, and with a time span stretching from the 19th century to the 21st.

Life is made up of individuals meeting one another. They speak, or don’t speak. They get on, or don’t get on. They make agreements, which they either hold to or ignore. They laugh, they cry, they are excited, they are indifferent, they share secrets, they say ‘How do you do?’ Often it is the most fleeting of meetings that, in the fullness of time, turn out to be the most noteworthy.

‘One on One’ examines the curious nature of different types of meeting, from the oddity of meetings with the Royal Family (who start giggling during a recital by TS Eliot) to those often perilous meetings between old and young (Gladstone terrifying the teenage Bertrand Russell) and between young and old (the 23 year old Sarah Miles having her leg squeezed by the nonagenarian Bertrand Russell), and our contemporary random encounters on television (George Galloway meeting Michael Barrymore on Celebrity Big Brother).

Ingenious in its construction, witty in its narration, panoramic in its breadth, ‘One on One’ is a wholly original book.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 660 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (22 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005H0NVWM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #137,769 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A structured approach 6 Nov. 2011
By jfitzg
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this kind of thing - writing within a highly specific formal structure demands brevity and wit. Craig Brown would be less challenged than most by restriction, given his pieces for Private Eye, but it is impressive. The "chain" drives you on to continue to read the next of the 101 pieces - I read all at a single sitting. Not all of the one on ones are riveting, but even then there's a kind of fascinating awkward silence about them.

Strangest encounter for my money is between Elvis and the Beatles. Biggest "what if" is the man who might have killed Hitler using only a Model T.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As addictive as a good thriller 22 Oct. 2011
Craig Brown will be familiar to most people as Britain's foremost satirist, and the author of the merciless Private Eye 'diaries'. In 'One on One' he has taken the brave decision to try something entirely unexpected, recording meetings between famous people in which one leads to another, like a daisy chain. So, the book opens with Adolf Hitler meeting John Scott-Ellis, then Scott-Ellis meets Rudyard Kipling, who then meets Mark Twain and so on through 101 encounters until the Duchess of Windsor meets Adolf Hitler. All the encounters actually took place, and the author has taken great care to record them as accurately as possible. He has also written them as straight prose, with no attempt to tweak them with humour of his own.
The result is an absolute page turner, as good as any thriller. Each encounter gives a glimpse, often sidelong, of a famous personality. Some are quite sad, like the picture of a destitute Oscar Wilde lingering in Parisian cafes because he can't pay the bill. Others reveal the true nature of people you had always suspected were pretty ghastly, like Noel Coward and various other effete Englishmen. The Royal Family come across as pretty dull, and the circle surrounding them as equally dull, and sycophantic to boot. On the other hand, you revise your opinions of others - Kingsley Amis has a particularly good entry. The encounters will vary depending on your taste - I was not particularly interested in the Russian section - but they are all interesting, and absolutely addictive. The book would serve as a work of reference, and Craig Brown has helpfully listed his sources at the end. All in all, a triumph.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous idea 26 Oct. 2011
Craig Brown is best known to most people as a parodist but I first became aware of him way back in 1982 when he co-wrote "The Book Of Royal Lists", one of the best of its genre. It was apparent then that he had an eye for the cute and the funny, the way out and the wacky. In "One On One" he returns to this arena recounting 101 meetings between the famous and the infamous. the righteous and the rotters, the good and the very bad. Each entry has the exact date (where known) and place of the encounter, is told in 1,001 words and is written in the present tense. The stories are symmetrical and we begin and end with the same man, Adolf Hitler. So we start with Hitler being knocked down by Old Etonian John Scott Ellis in Briennerstrasse, Munich on 22 August 1931. Unfortunately, Mr Scott Ellis wasn't driving quickly enough to do any harm to the Austrian. Then Mr Scott Ellis meets Rudyard Kipling who meets Mark Twain who then has a rendezvous with Helen Keller and so on until the 101st meeting when the Duchess of Windsor takes tea with Hitler and so the circle and the book is complete.

Mr Brown is a terrific writer with a light touch and the book is in terms funny, charming, sad and poignant. More of this please...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing bauble of a book 18 Aug. 2012
Here's an interesting bauble of a Christmas book. The superb British humourist Craig Brown writes up 101 one on one encounters between the great and the good (as well as the not so great and the not so good), to shine a torch onto the darker - and probably somewhat inconsequential - corners of history. Each of these meetings follows on from the one before and clearly the more incongruous they are, the better Brown likes them. So we have Frank Lloyd Wright designing a house for Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe wearing her tightest and sexiest dress for Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev having a stand up row with Labour politician George Brown, George Brown provoking a different stand-up row with Eli Wallach on the night JFK is assassinated, Eli Wallach being greeted by Frank Sinatra, Sinatra dealing with Dominick Dunne and so on.

In his satire, Brown (Craig, rather than George) is superb at the grotesque exaggeration, but here he plays it dead straight - and the result is a joy. There are 101 mini essays in this book (each of them lasting 101 words, so there is an anal quality to it) and all are amazingly entertaining and include beautiful and amusing nuggets of information. This is a book where even the footnotes are wielded with consummate skill, and one of my favourite passages occurs in those footnotes - the author briefly detailing a meeting (he was actually present at) between Anthony Burgess and Benny Hill! So I suppose that's 102 encounters, each one very surprising but deeply amusing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One on One 30 Mar. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is really one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long while. A book describing 101 chance meetings, each described in exactly 1001 words, making it perfect to dip into or read in it's entirety. The random encounters lead off each other - so, for example, the first meeting is between Adolph Hitler, who is knocked down by John Scott-Ellis in 1931. This leads into John Scott-Ellis meeting Rudyard Kipling and Rudyard Kipling meeting Mark Twain, etc etc. The whole book comes full circle, ending with Hitler meeting The Duchess of Windsor.

Just about everyone is in this book - these are famous people who are truly famous, not the wannabee's of today. Everybody from the Royal family, philosophers, authors, actors and singers are represented and you will know them all: from Jackie Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney to Frank Sinatra, Rasputin to Stalin. Some of the encounters are funny, others bizarre, some touching. There is Michael Jackson locking himself in the toilets at the White House, Andy Warhol's feud with Jackie Kennedy, Richard Burton misbehaving at a dinner party with the Duchess of Windsor, a creepy premonition at a meeting between Alec Guinness and James Dean, Evelyn Waugh giving out a public persona which says, "I am bored, you are frightened," and H.G. Wells asserting that Stalin "owes his position to the fact that no one is afraid of him," which leads on to the chilling death of Maxim Gorky. This really is a gem of a book and would make a great present, as a person is sure to be intersted in at least some of the people included. Fantastic stuff and highly enjoyable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it
Published 10 days ago by Angela Hesford
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and intriguing
I bought this as a Christmas present for my son based on some great reviews. He's really enjoying it and I'm hoping he'll pass it my way when he's finished!
Published 23 days ago by KLUsher
4.0 out of 5 stars No words wasted. Interesting throughout
Very clever idea. No words wasted. Interesting throughout.
Published 2 months ago by canon TJ Sedgley
2.0 out of 5 stars I guess it's a bit dated. I didn't recognise ...
I guess it's a bit dated. I didn't recognise some of the "diarists" so the humour was lost on me.
Published 6 months ago by jenny wren
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating
I wondered how good this book would be, but bought it mainly on the strength of Craig Brown's excellent work in "Private Eye". Read more
Published 6 months ago by T. D. Welsh
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for bedtime
An ingenious idea, and fine for dipping into, but not an absorbing bedtime read. Perhaps best to pass the time in a waiting-room.
Published 9 months ago by Stellar
3.0 out of 5 stars Light bedside reading
A chain of 101 encounters: Hitler meets Scott-Ellis, Scott-Ellis meets Kipling, and so on, until the last one, the Duchess of Windsor meeting Hitler, closes the circle. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ralph Blumenau
1.0 out of 5 stars Damning indictment of the curse of celebrity
Who said what to who and when. And by the way who cares: It belongs in the same bucket as the bulk of twitter feed. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A quirky but fascinating journey.
Brown guides us along a chain of surprising associations between pairs of famous individuals so that, in only a few steps, we're moving into entirely different fields. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Willliam, Oxford
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and funny
Not sure why no one ever thought of this before. But then if they had what would Crag Brown have done?
Published 18 months ago by CC
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