One on One, Hardback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


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 encounters with the Royal Family (who start giggling during a recital by TS Eliot) to those often perilous meetings between old and young (Mark Twain terrifying Rudyard Kipling) and between young and old (the 23-year-old Sarah Miles having her leg squeezed by the nonagenarian Bertrand Russell), to contemporary random encounters (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.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780007360628



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

This is a book about human social life. The meetings are concise examples of human vanity, absurdity, poignancy and love. Each is concisely described with a wit so subtle that it promotes thought and laughter at the same time. There is a lot to learn here and a lot to be reminded of.

Review by

This was okay - not as good as I first thought it would be. Some encounters were very interesting, like Dali fanboying Freud, Salinger hating on Hemingway, Chaplin hating on Groucho, Tchaikovsky avoiding Tolstoy in the street - that kind of thing. Proust meeting Joyce was pretty hilarious. Actually, it was a bit like reading Heat magazine without any pictures - which is sad. I like the pictures - those are the best bits. I would love to read the Heat version of the parting between Hitchcock and Raymond Chandler. My personal favourite encounter was Madonna meeting Martha Graham, despite it reading like a scene from an overly generous biopic. Sap.

Review by

Interesting way to present anecdotes.

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