"When Arthur Miller shook my hand I could only think that this was the hand that once cupped the breasts of Marilyn Monroe," says Barry Humphries, the comic Dame Edna.
Sound complicated? Believe me, it's not. It is entirely divine, delicious and delectable -- like eavesdropping on the gods, forbidden observances of VIPs at play, gossip and
anecdotes to the max.
These are just a few of the anecdotes and though some are so British to the core that I did not recognize the people or care about them, 99 percent are first rate. You can read these brief encounters written in 101 words each -- the meetings of Jacqueline Kennedy and Andy Warhol...of Marilyn Monroe and Frank Lloyd Wright...of Princess Margaret and Kenneth Tynan...of J. D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway...of Rasputin and Czar Nicholas II... of Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust...of Peggy Lee and Richard Nixon...of Elvis and Nixon...of Paul McCartney and Noel Coward -- and on and on, 101 of them.
Madonna ends up by giving Martha Graham the money to keep her school going. (Graham burst into tears of gratitude.) J. D. Salinger, after meeting Laurence Olivier comes to detest the actor, and says his performing was on a par with John Wayne in "The Shootist."
I haven't told you the half of this wonderful book. And it's all documented. Where there are varying versions, author Brown says he selected the more credible. (This book reminds me a bit of the current fashion hit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where the works of Prada and Schiaparelli are being offered under the title "Impossible Conversations." This show of contrasting design generations runs until Aug 19.Don't miss it!)
But, listen, whatever you do, don't fail to pick up "Hello, Goodbye, Hello." It is masterpiece of style, form and splendid efficiency in writing. Not a wasted word, not a pointless adjective.
It's a great book to flip through just before dining with friends. If certain famous names come up, you can astound them with your knowledge!