The opening chapter blows (you) away. Published three years before 9-11, this is a riveting multi-focal account of a baseball game incorporating historical and fictional characters, which climaxes with thousands of pieces of paper floating down from the stands and characters hanging from walls before falling to earth as they drop to invade the pitch. Creepily prescient for a "Great American Novel" about the Cold War and after.
The next section cuts promisingly to the desert and a modern artistic community painting B52s in dry storage, observed from a hot-air balloon. A cast of believable characters emerges, the dialogue is sharp and the scenes visualise well but then what else? Loads of men beefing and joking about this and that; 'under'-themes of conspiracies and waste (garbage managers, sewage, radioactive deserts); women who enter in order to generate a little desultory adultery.
This is a man's world and a man's book written as a literary giant killer (the anxiety of influence for the author; the anxiety of not having read the new Ulysses for the reader).
After 300 (/800) pages of great writing but little sign of a plot, I just stopped. So I'd agree with Mr B.
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