Hallman ranges deep and wide in this passionate and often over-the-top polemic on why literature matters. Drawing parallels between falling in love with a person and with a writer’s work, he is deliberately outrageous. “Literature must do whatever it’s not supposed to do, and literature about literature must do the same,” he writes defensively after acknowledging that readers might find his description of grooming his girlfriend’s nether parts with an electric razor “irrelevant to some, maybe even immature and indulgent.” He adds later, “that’s exactly what criticism should be, a public display of affection.”
But “B & Me” is just as much about how a writer comes to conceive and develop such a project to begin with. If anything, it is as much a book about the fundamentally quixotic quest to write a book — any book — as it is an essay about another author’s oeuvre.
However, there’s much to like about this book. Mr. Hallman is clearly a smart guy and an engaging writer, and his comments on a wide variety of subjects give both pause and pleasure.
A funny, frisky, often outrageous book about love, literature, and modern life—and a wink of the eye toU and I, Nicholson Baker’s classic book about John Updike—by an award-winning author called “wonderfully bright” This is a great book to read if you love reading books and are worried about their future; and it’s a great book to read if you love words and love to see them gainfully employed, often with humor.