B Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

B  Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal

A funny, frisky, often outrageous book about love, literature, and modern life—and a wink of the eye to U and I, Nicholson Baker’s classic book about John Updike—by an award-winning author called “wonderfully bright” by The New York Times Book Review.

Nearly twenty-five years ago, Nicholson Baker published U and I, the fretful and handwringing—but also groundbreaking—tale o

Nearly twenty-five years ago, Nicholson Baker published U and I, the fretful and handwringing—but also groundbreaking—tale of his literary relationship with John Updike. U and I inspired a whole sub-genre of engaging, entertaining writing about reading, but what no story of this type has ever done is tell its tale from the moment of conception, that moment when you realize that there is writer out there in the world that you must read—so you read them. B & Me is that story, the story of J. C. Hallman discovering and reading Nicholson Baker, and discovering himself in the process.

Our relationship to books in the digital age, the role of art in an increasingly commodified world, the power great writing has to change us, these are at the core of Hallman’s investigation of Baker—questions he’s grappled with, values he’s come to doubt. But in reading Baker’s work, Hallman discovers the key to overcoming the malaise that had been plaguing him, through the books themselves and what he finds and contemplates in his attempts to understand them and their enigmatic author: sex, book jackets, an old bed and breakfast, love, Monica Lewinsky, Paris, marriage, more sex, the logistics of libraries. In the spirit of Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage and Elif Batuman’s The Possessed, B & Me is literary self-archaeology: a funny, irreverent, brilliant, incisive story of one reader’s desperate quest to restore passion to literature, and all the things he learns along the way.
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    Jason

    Nov 09, 2014

    rated it
    it was amazing

    This book is a strong take on the purpose of literature and a scathing critique of what it’s become. This is also a slap in the face of literary criticism itself, the lofty airy dishonesty of criticism that forgets that actual human beings are behind written books. B & Me is structured in a way that mimics Nicholson Baker’s U and I, a book ostensibly about Baker’s hero, John Updike. And like U and I, B & Me is not strictly what it appears to be.This is a love affair of the written word

    The book begins with a crisis: the writer has been in the classroom too long to enjoy literature. He’s despondent, he needs help out of this funk. He needs that literary-induced passion that made him become a writer in the first place. How to do this? By reading a writer whose work he’s never actually read before, Nicholson Baker. Thus begins his jaunt across hundreds of years of literary history, a cultural landscape scattered with the landmines of anti-literary impediments such as moralism, (and recently, bad TV), and into the oeuvre of Nicholson Baker, book by book, in order to make sense of who he (Baker) is, what he writes about, how those themes connect to the author of B & Me himself, and even into the bedroom, whereby Hallman describes (as though from the pages of some of Baker’s pornographic novel, Vox) some very titillating sex scenes with he and his girlfriend. These are the things detractors will focus on, yet they are not what the book is about. What the book is about is rediscovering what it means to be a passionate reader, a “creative reader” as Emerson discussed in his 1837 commencement speech turned essay “The American Scholar,” an essay cited by Hallman as the originator of the term “creative writing.” Perhaps Hallman missed an opportunity to plug “creative reading” while discussing this very essay, but no matter. What’s important is that contemporary American culture is in dire need of books, real books, the little rectangular things made of paper with words written on them. What’s at stake without a literate culture is a dumbed down screen-based culture that leaves much to be desired. Hallman finally re-experiences that passion that he so sorely missed. And that’s what he wants from you, to remember what it means to fall in love with a writer like you did when you were fourteen.
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    Annette

    Mar 15, 2015

    rated it
    did not like it

     · 
    review of another edition

    Shelves:
    kindle,
    purged

    Read this only if you are interested in the authors cringe-worthy oversharing about his sex life or if you find strained overreaching to show tenuous connections between Nicholson Baker and William and/or Henry James fascinating. Yes, I get that Hallman studied the James bros but that doesn’t necessarily mean they had undo influence on Baker. This results in what seems like an attempt to shoehorn them in for the sake of showing off his knowledge. There is also much hand-wringing about the state

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    Karen

    Dec 07, 2014

    rated it
    really liked it

    I am completely at a loss as to how to review this book. This is a book about a man dissecting the writings of Nicholas Baker. He reflects on the writings real and inferred meanings. He laments his actions in life as he is discovering. He quips about the meaninglessness and righteousness of reviewing a writer’s book, all the while doing that very thing.

    “Everything you write should be a test of whether you should be a writer.”

    I have to begin by saying I didn’t even know who Nicholas Baker is, t

    “Everything you write should be a test of whether you should be a writer.”

    I have to begin by saying I didn’t even know who Nicholas Baker is, that he was a real person and that his writings are there for anyone to discover. I feel as if this could have been written by a great many people discovering great literature. Without more than the author’s dissection of Baker’s work, I am unable to say whether his writing inspired this plunge into dissection, or if the author chose Baker at random due to popularity. A good preface would be to mention that a reading of Nicholas Baker is a prerequisite. Since I didn’t and I won’t be reading Baker anytime soon. I can only tell you that the writing in this book is very thought provoking, if not a bit off the deep end of musing.

    While the writer is discovering Nicholas Baker, he is going through his own life. His relationship and it’s ticks. He travels to France and sprinkles in what an American living in France might discover, or what he has discovered, anyways. There are so many elaborately elaborate descriptions in this book. The descriptions are not of the landscape or visions of the author, no, these descriptions are of the feelings and introspection of a man who really needs to reflect on the meanings of things most people didn’t consider. The author goes to great lengths to analyze his thoughts on the subjects in the stories by Baker and their mimicry to the author who penned them.

    I think this book is a bit of an acquired taste though. I won’t be surprised if it is not well received by the masses. Because reviewing is made into an art. The author’s critique of another author’s writing may not be taken well. In my opinion this book is an experience for thoughts and a tribute to great writing. Any author who could make a discussion of books by one author, into a book, and make it this thought provoking has my undivided attention.
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