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Cute, but one gimmick too many
on September 24, 2012
Hello Goodbye Hello has a fine concept: 101 daisy-chained encounters between the great, the good, the bad and the somewhere-in-between. But for some reason Craig Brown decided this wasn't enough of a gimmick. So on top of that, each of the 101 encounters is 1001 words long. This conceit hurts the book. The writing is weirdly choppy, with callbacks to names that have never actually been mentioned; the same snippet being included in both the body of the text and the footnotes; a strange jumpiness between paragraphs; and other visible scars from the editing process. On top of that, not all of these encounters are equally interesting. But because of the gimmick, they are treated as though they are.
A book like this should be an exercise in style. His fixation on 101x1001 crippled his style, knocked the book out of rhythm and in the end made me wish it had ended about 80 pages before it actually did. Which is not really what I'm looking for in light entertainment. When the gimmick hurts the writing, you need to drop the gimmick.