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Billy and Girl - Deborah Levy

My, my, my. What to say? What to say? Perhaps, only, THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. If it were a review, I’d be able to recommend it or dissuade a potential reader. I can do neither.

B&G came to my attention via a 5-star, revelrous review by my favorite Scot (who will remain my favorite Scot, at the very least, until I’ve met a second one). I read his review, ordered it immediately (after all, did he not turn me on to B.S. Johnson and Gilbert Sorrentino?) and let it sit on my TBR shelf for an entire year—until I went looking for something that might be read quickly. Its moment arrived, and I read it.

But before reading it, I noticed another GR friend’s review—an ominous 2-star-er, with an advisory “Recommends it for: I couldn't.” Uh, oh. Two well-read GR friends with virtually opposite reactions. Not wanting to be further predisposed, I waited until after reading B&G to read the second review. Oy!

As luck has it, they each reflect my feelings on this one. I liked it, sorta, and didn’t like it, sorta. I liked the character of Billy and his constant bemoaning a life in pain. Oddly enough, a quote hit my feed today, "...and there was nothing to do except to wait and to hurt." — Mark Haddon. I’m a Haddon fan. I liked the odd brother/sister banter that rings true. I liked the author’s style—fast-paced and blistering. On the other hand, I never did get quite accustomed to a comfort level with not knowing what was happening (I still don’t know if there was one Louise or two). And that ending? Someone needs to pay.

So, on this one I’m Switzerland. I can neither recommend or dissuade, praise or condemn, love or hate. In general, I liked it, hence the 4 stars, but that doesn’t mean: rush out and get it. If you really must read it, I’ll say what I’ve said before, get it from the library, or borrow mine (you know who you are).