After finishing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel I read Geoff Dyer’s review in the Sunday Times Book Review of May 18, 2012. Or reread, probably, at least partly. My approach to book reviews is flexible. I read them if I’m interested in the non-fiction subject, even a little.
I read fiction reviews if I like the writer or I like the reviewer, or if the writer or reviewer I don’t know captures me for some reason. References to books and writers I like help. But it is hit or miss.
If I start reading a review, for whatever reason, and think I might read the book, I stop. It isn’t pleasurable to read with a critical voice in your head, no matter whose. Read the book first, read the review later. Same goes for movies.
I’m sure I at least started Dyer’s review of Ben Fountain’s book because I like reading Dyer, and I’m sure I stopped because I thought I would read the book, which I eventually did and have now finished.
All of which is to say that Dyer’s review gets the book, and does it without even mentioning Beyonce’.
What I can tell you is the book is a love story, and like all love stories it’s a wish-fulfillment scenario. The fact that that mostly-dry humping mise en scene intersects with the War in Iraq, Bush 43 giving medals, Fox Television, the Dallas Cowboys, Hillary Swank, Destiny’s Child, a twisted dysfunctional and sweet family, and many vile and some sweet characters, and is written with vivid access to metaphor that captures life in these United States these days, is secondary.
But not unimportant.