Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk eBook ð Long Halftime

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk eBook ð Long Halftime

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk [Epub] ❧ Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Author Ben Fountain – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk is a razor sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Ir Winner of the National Book Critics Long Halftime ePUB ✓ Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk is a razor sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Ira It explores the gaping national disconnect between the war Billy Lynn's MOBI :Þ at home and the war abroadBen Fountain’s remarkable debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Suad through one exhausting stop in their media intensive Victory Tour at Texas Stadium football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys their fans promoters and cheerleaders.


10 thoughts on “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

  1. Kemper Kemper says:

    It’s probably a bad idea for the US military to allow the troops overseas to get the news from back home I have this fear that someday the service men and women in places like Ira and Afghanistan will finally snap after seeing the people they’ve pledged to defend are less interested in what they’re doing than TV reality shows and celebrity gossip If the military ever decides that the pack of assholes back in America isn’t worth fighting and dying for we could find all that hardware aiming back at us someday I really wouldn’t blame themBilly Lynn is a young soldier who was serving in Ira with Bravo suad After Bravo got into a hellacious firefight with a band of insurgents that was captured on camera by an embedded Fox News crew the members of Bravo become national heroes To capitalize on their popularity the Bush administration has Bravo brought back to the US and sent them on a ‘Victory Tour’ Which just so happens to run through critical electoral states for the next election to drum up support for the war The Victory Tour culminates at a Thanksgiving Day pro football game at Texas Stadium in which Bravo is supposed to play a part in the half time show While Billy and the other Bravo members have been enjoying some of the perks of being heroes on tour it also means putting up with the people who want to prove their support of the troops by fawning over them as well as being used as PR props by anyone with an agenda like the owner of the Cowboys Bravo would also like to sign a film deal before they have to deploy back to Ira in a few days so they can at least get a nice payday for their efforts but the producer they’re working with is having problems getting Hollywood interested in a war movie set in Ira Ben Fountain avoids a lawsuit by creating a fictional asshole owner of the Cowboys instead of naming Jerry Jones the actual asshole owner of the CowboysI started noting passages I wanted to uote in this review but I hit a point where I was finding something on every page so I gave up on that plan There was so much about this one that I loved that I don’t really know where to start Young Billy Lynn is one of the best and most sympathetic characters I’ve read in a long while He’s a 19 year old virgin who can’t legally drink but he’s gone to war and had experience with death than most would have in a lifetime Billy is nervous when dealing with the older wealthier good old boys who want to glad hand Bravo at the game and he has a somewhat naive belief that there is someone wiser than him that can explain all the feelings that combat and the aftermath have stirred in him However he also has a grunt's hyper awareness of hypocrisy and bullshitAs Bravo endures a long day of being used as props for photo ops and a half time show Billy’s musings and observations about the people and events in the stadium showcase a society that will spend billions on sports but pays it’s soldiers a pittance while patting themselves on the back for the way they support the troops by offering them applause and trinkets before sending them back to war That’s a powerful point but what makes this so great is that the message is delivered so deftly and without the heavy handed political left or right wing political manifesto that is part of almost any writing done about these kinds of subjects It’s also funny and absolutely nails many things that are great and ridiculous about AmericaIt’s only March but I think I may have an early winner for Best Book I Read This Year


  2. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    It is early in the latest Ira war SPC Billy Lynn a 19 year old silver star recipient and bona fide war hero is about to be honored at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving home game along with seven other members of Bravo company for bravery in a battle that had the benefit of a Fox news crew with plenty of film He is also the window through which we get a hard look at the reality of millennial America That Ben Fountain succeeds so well in making Billy work both as a character in his own right and a literary mechanism speaks to the extraordinary talent on display Billy has killed enemy combatants and has lost close friends He has endured a difficult family life in which his wheelchair bound father sought refuge from his disappointments in alcohol and bitterness His maturity emerges when he ponders larger philosophical uestions or sees through some of the shallowness and hypocrisy around him But he is also an innocent a virgin in many ways Billy’s innocence displays when he is smitten with one of the Cowboy cheerleaders He is looking for people to believe in to trust to admire to help him figure out how the world works One of the men he most admired died in his arms Another is with him on the tour Sergeant Dime 24 a smart tough soldier euipped with a highly refined bullshit detector At the stadium Billy seriously wanting to find out how things work in the world wanders from adult to adult like a lost chick asking “are you my mother?” This dichotomy makes sense in a young man who has seen so much We expect him to be unevenThe story takes place in a single day following Bravo from their arrival at Texas Stadium to their departure at day’s end The half time festivities of which they are a part include multiple marching bands firefight level pyrotechnics and a performance by Destiny’s Child Bravo is accompanied by a military minder a corporate escort and a Hollywood producer who is trying to put together a major film about their exploitsThere are violent roadies Cowboy cheerleaders football players of uestionable moral makeup obnoxious fans corporate lizards and lots and lots of people who thank Bravo for their service Alcohol will be consumed Weed will be smoked Sex will be had You will on occasion laugh out loudSiting the story in Texas is no accident America’s team hosts America’s heroes Dubyah has sent these boys around the country to boost morale and importantly political and popular support Theirs is a PR for the war tourThey hate our freedoms? Yo they hate our actual guts Billy suspects his fellow Americans secretly know better but something in the land is stuck on teenage drama on extravagant theatrics of ravaged innocence and soothing mud wallows of self justifying pityBut the soldiers know that they are mere pawns “Everybody supports the troops” Sergeant Dime woofs “Support the troops support the troops hell yeah we’re so fucking PROUD of our troops but when it comes to actual money? Like somebody might have to come out of pocket for the troops? Then all the sudden we’re on everybody’s tight ass budget Talk is cheap I got that but gimme a break Talk is cheap but money screams This is not a cheery depiction of America Warts are on display maybe on the Jumbotron along with videos of Bravo in battle and ads for everything It is the nation in microcosm with the soldiers just another prop pumping up the consumer to buy product whether that be deodorant sex or a nifty new war By creating a relatable character in Billy Lynn and casting a smart analytical eye over the world he portrays Ben Fountain has succeeded in producing a brilliant book This is not only a sharp look at America and its values considering among other things the origins of the Bible how Hollywood is like the court of Louis the Sun King sporting events as ads for ads elements of spectacle as catalysts for tribal violence fear as the mother of all emotion and profiteering in war It offers as well recognition of innocence and optimism in this everyman a character who despite having stared into the abyss still nurtures very American dreams of a rosy future if only he can survive long enough to pursue itUPDATES5712 Janet Maslin's great review in the NY Times101012 Billy is nominated for a National Book Award Hooah11613 Billy is named a finalist for the New York Book Critics Circle Award for fiction2413 This is of a PS than an actual updateBilly Lynn popped into my mind on a very big screen during the Superbowl last night It was not a stretch to see in the NFL's use of Sandy Hook survivors a cynical attempt to associate themselves with warm and fuzzy America and apple pie just as was done with Bravo Company in the novel that Beyonce and even Destiny's Child performed added resonance to the association with Ben Fountain's magnificent book all the while promoting a sport that celebrates violence The irony or is it rank hypocrisy was gag worthy3113 Billy wins the National Book Critics Circle 2012 awardfor fiction


  3. Fabian Fabian says:

    No American Sniper it isn't Even The Hurt Locker or Zero Dark Thirty or the forgotten Stop Loss aren't IT either BUT this IS IT you gotta GOTTA READ thisOf course you would have to go to literature for the most captivating most REALISTIC depictions of the new American Soldier's psyche Juicy and spine tinglingly relevant this uber irreverent novel soars high with a grounded and visceral pulse in an almost minute by minute account of society's push on the soldier Billy Lynn on his fish out of water ness His condition is complex AND clichéd in eual measure but that it is important or worthwhile of this awesome o so cool portrait there is NO DOUBT Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a gratifying read that's not only today's Catch 22 but also Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway put together swirled in with the priceless and undeniable wit of THE Modern American AuthorPS film looks exuisite no? PPS but it's a dud Alas And had I seen it on IMAX? I'd be soo fucking mad


  4. Matthew Matthew says:

    I enjoyed this book than I expected And I wasn't really sure for the first half or so if I was enjoying it or not But as it built up to the end I was enthralled definitely the sign of a good bookThe delivery of the story was very uniue The entire story except for a few flashbacks takes place over the course of a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboy's game during the Gulf Conflict post 911 It concerns American heroes being honored and the reality of life in America vs military life in the Middle East being the catalyst for several interesting and intertwined storylines I don't know the background of the author and how much he knows about military life in person or researched but he does a really great job providing some raw realityWhat is the most amazing to me is how many storylines he fits into one football game Sure as a story you can bend time how you want but he does a pretty good job of making it seem reasonable that everything could have happened A great tear jerker that will make you think I am hoping that it is an on point depiction of how military personnel view life coming out of combat because it is very eye opening and in my opinion worth everyone reading to see that it isn't all justYay 'Murica


  5. K K says:

    Well that didn't take very long Mounting frustration a couple of critical if unusual goodreads reviews and that's it I feel validated now I'm uittingI wanted to blame the audio format but that doesn't usually get in the way when I'm truly enjoying a book I could say it's because it's a guy book but I've liked some guy books in my day admittedly they were a harder sell but not impossible for me to enjoyI guess the book just felt repetitive to me Not much of a plot; rather a string of linked events Every incident was crafted to bring home one or of the following points1 Soldiers in Ira and our hero in particular are really just ordinary 19 year old boys But now there's this huge divide between them and the rest of American society2 Americans spend a lot of money on stupid things3 Americans are naive about the war about the soldiers' experiences and about things in general4 War is bad5 War is really bad6 You stupid American civilians just don't get it do you?I just got tired of it after a while along with being hit over the head with the fact that Billy likes masturbating in his room now that he's home Geez I got it after one time do I have to hear about it every time? What artistic purpose is this serving exactly what new theme is this highlighting when all of the author's few points are being hammered in repeatedly as it is?I felt that Billy rather than being a character I could relate to conveniently alternated between being a cliche of a teenage guy and an introspective font of private wisdom And it wasn't as if any of the other characters particularly grabbed me eitherYes there were a few well written sentences Yes I guess the topic is arguably a profound one even if I didn't feel the book did it justice At all And so many discerning goodreaders whose opinions I truly respect loved this Raved about it So don't let my review put you off because I seem to be very much in the minority But I felt validated by the few negative reviews out there so if you're having the same experience as you read my review then I've done mine


  6. Kyle Kyle says:

    A brilliant exploration of the dissonance and disconnect between military life and civilian life in a time of war I can't recall the last time I've read a novel that skewers the American public so effectively and relentlessly This is the right novel for the last ten years of American wars perhaps THE novel for the War on TerrorGWOTLong Warwhatever the Pentagon is calling it these days There are several excellent memoirs and non fictional accounts of life on the modern battlefield The Forever War One Bullet Away Joker One Generation Kill but this novel heads straight for unexplored waters the patronizing superficial support of American citizens for their servicemen and the uniformly absurd way they react to a mention of the war or the presence of a soldier It is a story that could never be fully presented as a work of non fiction or journalism; every two bit patriot with a yellow ribbon on a minivan or an American flag in the front yard would be up in arms if they saw this account in a newspaper No this is the kind of story that can only be told at least in these contemporary times in a work of fiction and that's what Ben Fountain has done filled a gaping hole in our understanding of our recent foreign adventures But at its core the enemy of the good in this book is not patriotism but the self serving desire of the public to reduce the war down to something that is simple and easyand he wonders by what process virtually any discussion about the war seems to profane these ultimate matters of life and death As if to talk of such things properly we need a mode of speech near the eual of prayer otherwise just shut shut your yap and sit on it silence being truer to the experience than the star spangled spasm the bittersweet sob the redeeming hug or whatever this fucking closure is that everybody's talking about They want it to be easy and it's just not going to be With evocative descriptions and intervals of absurdist humor this book careens from the most profound uestions of life and death to the most base human desires At the end of the day it's not entirely clear whether the protagonists are Billy Lynn and Bravo or the American public and perhaps that's the point at some point the declaration of patriotism sympathy and support becomes less about the troops dying overseas than about the person making the declaration Negotiating that line is not an easy task but Ben Fountain has both identified the line and made a compelling case that many of us have crossed it which gives this novel a relevance that is at once very contemporary but also timeless There will always be something of a disconnect between those who have seen war and those who have not but the values of civilian society will determine whether that disconnect becomes a yawning chasmFunny absurd heartfelt and provocative


  7. Steve Steve says:

    It’s an old observation but true nonetheless Nineteen is a difficult age – old enough to get shot for your country but not to drink beer In Billy Lynn’s case it’s an age where there’s than that to sort out but with little training to draw on to get it all figured We’re pulling for you though BillyWhat SPC William Lynn was trained for was life in Bravo Company ground troops in Ira who showed exceptional bravery under fire Footage of their valor found its way into American living rooms and for PR reasons these new heroes were given a tour of appreciation back in the States It culminated at Texas Stadium Thanksgiving Day where the Cowboys were playing the Bears Go Bears Bravo was invited to participate in the halftime show Of course with Destiny’s Child as the musical act they all wanted to know if they’d get to meet Beyoncé The live action takes place the day of the game starting with the limo ride there with Billy downing five Jack and Cokes and ending with the limo picking them up afterwards – next stop Ira – again Flashbacks tell us about their war experiences We learn about their victory lap too as they were trotted out to various media events including one at the White House The most significant stop for Billy though was to an empty part of Texas There at home he saw his doting sisters long suffering mom and now disabled still ornery father He discovered the medical bills had outpaced his heroism At surface level though the whole tour was a chorus of “We Support Our Troops” and “Thank you for your service” It was nice to feel appreciated but it may have rung hollow after awhile And none of it paid the bills Nor did it offer reprieves – they all had war to go To a man though they knew what they’d signed up to doAt the game plot lines were shooting in all directions all at once A movie dealmaker was constantly on his cell trying to get the Bravo story on the silver screen and money in their pockets Then there were the texts from one of Billy’s sisters trying to arrange for him to skip out of his return And let’s not forget Billy’s newfound love a Cowboys cheerleader with a connection to his hometown The Cowboys organization was a story in itself from owner Norm who was as thinly disguised a version of Jerry Jones as Frankenstein would be in a Frankenstein mask to the players a subset of whom offered gangsta style assistance in Ira for a few days Most of the book worked well for me On the minus side though I found writing at times to be a tad overdone It can be a fine line Exuberance is tricky For me an author with a good ear can even border on purple and still be OK but other times it’s simply distracting Here’s an example; judge for yourselves “It’s just too much for his hangover all the mounds slabs sheets hummocks and hillocks of edible matter resembling a complex system of defensive earthworks and it’s that thing ness the sheer molecular density on display that gives him the lurch”Then a few pages later I think Fountain gets it just about right Describing the luxury box crowd “The men have the hale good looks and silver hair of successful bank presidents or midsized city mayors tanned fit sixty year olds who can still bring the heat on their tennis serves Their wives are substantially but not offensively younger all blondes all displaying the taut architectonics of surgical self improvement”Other passages show Fountain’s powers of observation To wit “Norm is confident absolutely he is the king of self esteem but this is the confidence of self help tapes and motivational mantras confidence learned as one learns a foreign language and so the accent lingers in his body language a faint arthritic creak in every smile and gesture”Back on the minus side were instances of implausibility I’ll skip past examples from the plot since I’ve said too much about that already but will ask if we should believe that a young man can drink beers and highballs than a dozen split a big joint and still answer interview uestions as lucidly as you please? While I’m at it do moms in Bugtussle TX really talk like the coolest urbanites in the ice tray? To pile on with one there were cases where I felt his stereotypes were a bit too convenient a notable exception being the born again Christian with an impetuous moment of passionAh but I’m being too picky The bottom line is Billy is great In a way he’s an every grunt but one that grows very aware He may not have been a scholar but he’s smart and seeking We can empathize completely as he searches for role models who can give him some wisdom and truth Shroom had been one but as Army buddies often do he met a bad end I mentioned before that not everything in the story seemed realistic but it was all very real to Billy This than compensates His feelings in the face of his conflicts seemed genuine and the book succeeds on those grounds; at its best spectacularly


  8. Hilary Hilary says:

    There are few things less enjoyable than poorly written satire and there are few time periods less interesting to set a book in than the very recent past decade or so past This book manages to combine both of these for a result that’s just as crappy as you’d imagine It’s satire with all the subtlety of “Goofus and Gallant” The plot is simple a small band of soldiers from Bravo suad which is a misnomer but that just shows the MEDIA DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE MILITARY who responded heroically in a firefight in Ira and who had a video of that response that went viral making them wildly popular heroes are on the final day of a two week Victory Tour in Dallas where they are attending the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game before shipping back to Ira because football Thanksgiving Texans super ‘Merica The soldiers don’t really know what they’re doing there because they aren’t told see man – it’s JUST LIKE THE WAR ITSELF and so they just sort of meander around drinking a lot and having a bunch of really rich stupid Texas stereotypes doing everything but yelling “Yee haw” while firing six shooters into the air and jangling their oil covered spurs tell them how proud they are of them and how much they support the war and how they all know President Bush Because a decade or so later it’s incredibly trenchant to note that rich Texans had a lot of influence with Bush and Cheney It’s time for me to fast track my book about how Deep Blue Something may not be the hit machine that “What About Breakfast at Tiffany’s” song might have had us believeOur protagonist Billy Flynn is the 19 year old soldier who played a key role in the fight and despite his lack of formal education he’s constantly disappearing into lengthy interior monologues referencing Sumerians and Turkmen and words like “homogenous” monologues in which he muses about America and things like how football players have like so much euipment and stuff and sometimes jackets are expensive and how America’s like one big mall with a country attached man and other such insights that would get you laughed out of a freshman sociology class at Antioch In the meantime the men of Bravo are working with a Hollywood producer who’s trying to sell their story who keeps coming over with stupid updates like “Hilary Swank’s interested now” which just leads Billy to have stupid second grade level thoughts about how Hollywood’s built on lies and stuff man fake than real It’s supposed to satirize the American public and what it means to support the troops but forced ridiculousness like involving the soldiers in a halftime show featuring Destiny’s Child or having Billy and a Cowboys cheerleader fall in love in a five hour period is a plot device I might expect in one of the lesser episodes of “Perfect Strangers” not in a novel that’s getting rave reviews across the board and being compared to Catch 22 If you want clever satire and something enjoyable to read skip this and pick up anything Evelyn Waugh ever wrote instead But Ben Fountain way to tell us that the Ira war is bad and to stick it to President Bush 10 years after that mattered That’s powerful stuff


  9. Sam Sam says:

    'If it's supposed to be this great Victory Tour then why can't he just stay home?Mr Whaley's voice was gentle 'It's fine young men like your brother who are going to lead us to victory''Not if they're dead' It took me much longer than I expected to finish Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk I couldn't put my finger on it at first until I realized I bookmarked nearly every other page for the first 100 or so pages This isn't a uiet book on balance it crackles and pops and is aggressive and muscular in its prose and in its smarts I'd read lines I like and go back and read them again and look for ideas and look for links and well I guess I got lost reading it in the best way possible which is pretty high praise for a novel At staged rallies for instance or appearances at malls or whenever TV or radio is present you are apt at some point to be lovingly mobbed by everyday Americans eager to show their gratitude then other times it's like you're invisible people just see right through you nothing registers Billy and Mango stand there eating scalding hot pizza and know that their fame is not their own Mainly it's another thing to laugh about this huge floating hologram of context and cut that leads everyone around by the nose Bravo included but Bravo can laugh and feel somewhat superior because they know they're being used Of course they do manipulation is their air and element for what is a soldier's job but to be the pawn of higher? Wear this say that go there shoot them then of course there's the final and ultimate be killed Every Bravo is a PhD in the art and science of duress The plot itself doesn't elapse over too much time it's the end of the Victory Tour for the Bravos instant stars in a 24 hour news cycle for defending a fallen comrade and holding off and killing insurgents in an outnumbered situation They return home heroes paraded around the country for media interviews and morale boosting In the events of the novel the Bravos are at a Cowboys Bears game on Thanksgiving Day and our protagonist Billy is bombarded with ideas and emotion as he navigates the day ahead of another deployment back to Ira Billy and his company especially Dime and the deceased Shroom are a wide ranging group of men with true brotherhood and camaraderie but also all with their own insecurities and demons from their war experiences or just from their real lives Billy wonders which is his true existence on a number of occasions and has to make a distinct choice by the end that tips his reality firmly into one camp or anotherOne can definitely get war book fatigue in the modern era but all are not the same nor are all created eually Ben Fountain's setting on the home front in between deployments is uniue as is putting the Bravos in a position to confront head on the commercialization of war My emotion and heart were completely invested in Billy's thoughts and choices This 19 year old boyman virginal and lusting smart but not fully educated a war hero and in search of leadership or inspiration we see the whole spectacle watching over Billy's shoulder We're as proud of him as the adoring fans who come up to him and ask the same uestions but through Billy's thoughts we also ask ourselves the readers of the home front if its fair for us to have put Billy in the position we have to send him multiple times to fight wars against unknown enemies for increasingly tenuous reasons to make a not fully grown kid become comfortable with killing and constantly putting his own too short life in the balance The thoughts Billy has the things Bravo says the way civilians interact with these briefly home heroes there's reflection and criticism and examination for the reader there too and thinking about it makes Billy somewhat bitter It's not that he's jealous so much as profoundly terrified Dread of returning to Ira euals the direst poverty and that's how he feels right now poor like a shabby homeless kid suddenly thrust in the company of millionaires Mortal fear is the ghetto of the human soul to be free of it something like the psychic euivalent of inheriting a hundred million dollars This is what he truly envies of these people the luxury of terror as a talking point and at this moment he feels so sorry for himself that he could break right down and cry So the subject is heavy but man is the writing fun It ranges from really smart clever uotes and artfully arranged sentences to just snappy dialogue that is incredibly revealing about the characters who utter the words The Bravos are funny despitebecause of their surreal situation at a Cowboys game rubbing shoulders with Hollywood producers and rich power brokers and gorgeous cheerleaders for their last free day before shipping out back to Ira It can be a macabre sense of humor but it's also silly crude smart I chuckled grinned and in some parts I laughed out loud This is a book with so much feeling so much verve I haven't been this entertained and informed since The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Fountain's prose keeps you off balance and on your toes but also pushes you into humor just when you think things are getting serious Mango grins cuts Billy a look 'Dude' he tells Hector 'we already going back'Hector suints 'Shittin' me''Shit you not Leaving Saturday''The fuck you gotta go back''Gotta finish our tour''The fuck The fuck you gotta go back after all you fuckin' done fuckin' heroes? Where's the fuckin' right in that? You guys done kicked your share a ass like when's they let you just coast on out?'Mango laughs 'The Army don't work that way They need bodies''Shit' Hector is scandalized 'For how long you gotta go?''Eleven months''Fuck' Sheer outrage 'You wanna go back?'The Bravos snort'Man Fuckin' harsh That just ain't right' Hector casts about 'Ain't they supposed to be making a movie about you?'Uh huh'And you still gotta go back? Fuck so what happens if you uh you uh ''Get smoked?' Billy offersHector turns away stricken'No worries homes' Mango says 'that's a totally different movie' Overall I found this a great read with really dynamic interesting characters set or less around a day in the life of Billy and the Bravos one pivotal surreal day of home life in between being at war And in addition to being highly entertaining and fun Fountain also manages to inform and provoke and get you as the reader to ask some occasionally uncomfortable uestions of yourself There were parts that I found slightly heavy handed or didn't work uite as well as others Billy falling in love with the Cowboys cheerleader and their encounter the meeting with the Jerry Jones stand in but overall I liked it a lot would enthusiastically recommend it and would probably re read it in the future


  10. Jill Jill says:

    It is perhaps a fortuitous accident that I turned the last pages of Ben Fountain’s absolutely brilliant novel during Memorial Daya day when rhetoric about courage support sacrifice and patriotism overflowsBilly Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero He and his fellow Bravo Suad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Ira They are brought home for a media intensive “Victory Tour” – in cities that happen to lie in an electoral swing state to reinvigorate support for the war We meet them at the end of that tour on a rainy Thanksgiving hosted by America’s Team The Dallas CowboysThey are in ways than one anonymous to an American public; their reinvented names are meant to erase their identity Major Mac Mango Lodes Billy etc In the fabled Texas Stadium their faces are interspersed on a JumboTron screen with ads for Chevy cars and Cowboy brand toaster ovens and high capacity ice makers Surrounded by so called patriots Billy and his friends are bombarded with words stripped of meaning “rerrRist currj freedom nina leven Bush values support” Billy reflects “They hate our freedoms? Yo they hate our actual guts Billy suspects his fellow Americans secretly know better but something in the land is stuck on teenage drama on extravagant theatrics of ravaged innocence and soothing mud wallows of self justifying pity”The people that surround him are insatiably expecting Billy to impart wisdom in sound bites Amid a world of plenty multi millionaires who have never put themselves in harm’s way let loose a stream of platitudes but Billy “truly envies these people the luxury of terror as a talking point” At another point he reflects “Never do Americans sound so much like a bunch of drunks as when they are celebrating at the end of their national anthem”Nineteen year old Billy – still a virgin with major lust going on for a Cowboys cheerleader who believes that cheerleading is a “spiritual calling” – has the necessary replies to inane uestions down pat He is as real as he can be as American as he can beAnd in this way Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk –marketed as a satire and blurbed as a new Catch 22 – is anything but There is nothing surreal about it; in fact it is an entirely apt portrayal of the times we live in I thought this book was absolutely brilliant – well crafted filled with insight and wisdom and heart wrenching In fact I’d go so far as to call it the uintessential American novel asking that all important uestion who are we and what do we want to become?


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10 thoughts on “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

  1. Kemper Kemper says:

    It’s probably a bad idea for the US military to allow the troops overseas to get the news from back home I have this fear that someday the service men and women in places like Ira and Afghanistan will finally snap after seeing the people they’ve pledged to defend are less interested in what they’re doing than TV reality shows and celebrity gossip If the military ever decides that the pack of assholes back in America isn’t worth fighting and dying for we could find all that hardware aiming back at us someday I really wouldn’t blame themBilly Lynn is a young soldier who was serving in Ira with Bravo suad After Bravo got into a hellacious firefight with a band of insurgents that was captured on camera by an embedded Fox News crew the members of Bravo become national heroes To capitalize on their popularity the Bush administration has Bravo brought back to the US and sent them on a ‘Victory Tour’ Which just so happens to run through critical electoral states for the next election to drum up support for the war The Victory Tour culminates at a Thanksgiving Day pro football game at Texas Stadium in which Bravo is supposed to play a part in the half time show While Billy and the other Bravo members have been enjoying some of the perks of being heroes on tour it also means putting up with the people who want to prove their support of the troops by fawning over them as well as being used as PR props by anyone with an agenda like the owner of the Cowboys Bravo would also like to sign a film deal before they have to deploy back to Ira in a few days so they can at least get a nice payday for their efforts but the producer they’re working with is having problems getting Hollywood interested in a war movie set in Ira Ben Fountain avoids a lawsuit by creating a fictional asshole owner of the Cowboys instead of naming Jerry Jones the actual asshole owner of the CowboysI started noting passages I wanted to uote in this review but I hit a point where I was finding something on every page so I gave up on that plan There was so much about this one that I loved that I don’t really know where to start Young Billy Lynn is one of the best and most sympathetic characters I’ve read in a long while He’s a 19 year old virgin who can’t legally drink but he’s gone to war and had experience with death than most would have in a lifetime Billy is nervous when dealing with the older wealthier good old boys who want to glad hand Bravo at the game and he has a somewhat naive belief that there is someone wiser than him that can explain all the feelings that combat and the aftermath have stirred in him However he also has a grunt's hyper awareness of hypocrisy and bullshitAs Bravo endures a long day of being used as props for photo ops and a half time show Billy’s musings and observations about the people and events in the stadium showcase a society that will spend billions on sports but pays it’s soldiers a pittance while patting themselves on the back for the way they support the troops by offering them applause and trinkets before sending them back to war That’s a powerful point but what makes this so great is that the message is delivered so deftly and without the heavy handed political left or right wing political manifesto that is part of almost any writing done about these kinds of subjects It’s also funny and absolutely nails many things that are great and ridiculous about AmericaIt’s only March but I think I may have an early winner for Best Book I Read This Year

  2. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    It is early in the latest Ira war SPC Billy Lynn a 19 year old silver star recipient and bona fide war hero is about to be honored at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving home game along with seven other members of Bravo company for bravery in a battle that had the benefit of a Fox news crew with plenty of film He is also the window through which we get a hard look at the reality of millennial America That Ben Fountain succeeds so well in making Billy work both as a character in his own right and a literary mechanism speaks to the extraordinary talent on display Billy has killed enemy combatants and has lost close friends He has endured a difficult family life in which his wheelchair bound father sought refuge from his disappointments in alcohol and bitterness His maturity emerges when he ponders larger philosophical uestions or sees through some of the shallowness and hypocrisy around him But he is also an innocent a virgin in many ways Billy’s innocence displays when he is smitten with one of the Cowboy cheerleaders He is looking for people to believe in to trust to admire to help him figure out how the world works One of the men he most admired died in his arms Another is with him on the tour Sergeant Dime 24 a smart tough soldier euipped with a highly refined bullshit detector At the stadium Billy seriously wanting to find out how things work in the world wanders from adult to adult like a lost chick asking “are you my mother?” This dichotomy makes sense in a young man who has seen so much We expect him to be unevenThe story takes place in a single day following Bravo from their arrival at Texas Stadium to their departure at day’s end The half time festivities of which they are a part include multiple marching bands firefight level pyrotechnics and a performance by Destiny’s Child Bravo is accompanied by a military minder a corporate escort and a Hollywood producer who is trying to put together a major film about their exploitsThere are violent roadies Cowboy cheerleaders football players of uestionable moral makeup obnoxious fans corporate lizards and lots and lots of people who thank Bravo for their service Alcohol will be consumed Weed will be smoked Sex will be had You will on occasion laugh out loudSiting the story in Texas is no accident America’s team hosts America’s heroes Dubyah has sent these boys around the country to boost morale and importantly political and popular support Theirs is a PR for the war tourThey hate our freedoms? Yo they hate our actual guts Billy suspects his fellow Americans secretly know better but something in the land is stuck on teenage drama on extravagant theatrics of ravaged innocence and soothing mud wallows of self justifying pityBut the soldiers know that they are mere pawns “Everybody supports the troops” Sergeant Dime woofs “Support the troops support the troops hell yeah we’re so fucking PROUD of our troops but when it comes to actual money? Like somebody might have to come out of pocket for the troops? Then all the sudden we’re on everybody’s tight ass budget Talk is cheap I got that but gimme a break Talk is cheap but money screams This is not a cheery depiction of America Warts are on display maybe on the Jumbotron along with videos of Bravo in battle and ads for everything It is the nation in microcosm with the soldiers just another prop pumping up the consumer to buy product whether that be deodorant sex or a nifty new war By creating a relatable character in Billy Lynn and casting a smart analytical eye over the world he portrays Ben Fountain has succeeded in producing a brilliant book This is not only a sharp look at America and its values considering among other things the origins of the Bible how Hollywood is like the court of Louis the Sun King sporting events as ads for ads elements of spectacle as catalysts for tribal violence fear as the mother of all emotion and profiteering in war It offers as well recognition of innocence and optimism in this everyman a character who despite having stared into the abyss still nurtures very American dreams of a rosy future if only he can survive long enough to pursue itUPDATES5712 Janet Maslin's great review in the NY Times101012 Billy is nominated for a National Book Award Hooah11613 Billy is named a finalist for the New York Book Critics Circle Award for fiction2413 This is of a PS than an actual updateBilly Lynn popped into my mind on a very big screen during the Superbowl last night It was not a stretch to see in the NFL's use of Sandy Hook survivors a cynical attempt to associate themselves with warm and fuzzy America and apple pie just as was done with Bravo Company in the novel that Beyonce and even Destiny's Child performed added resonance to the association with Ben Fountain's magnificent book all the while promoting a sport that celebrates violence The irony or is it rank hypocrisy was gag worthy3113 Billy wins the National Book Critics Circle 2012 awardfor fiction

  3. Fabian Fabian says:

    No American Sniper it isn't Even The Hurt Locker or Zero Dark Thirty or the forgotten Stop Loss aren't IT either BUT this IS IT you gotta GOTTA READ thisOf course you would have to go to literature for the most captivating most REALISTIC depictions of the new American Soldier's psyche Juicy and spine tinglingly relevant this uber irreverent novel soars high with a grounded and visceral pulse in an almost minute by minute account of society's push on the soldier Billy Lynn on his fish out of water ness His condition is complex AND clichéd in eual measure but that it is important or worthwhile of this awesome o so cool portrait there is NO DOUBT Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a gratifying read that's not only today's Catch 22 but also Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway put together swirled in with the priceless and undeniable wit of THE Modern American AuthorPS film looks exuisite no? PPS but it's a dud Alas And had I seen it on IMAX? I'd be soo fucking mad

  4. Matthew Matthew says:

    I enjoyed this book than I expected And I wasn't really sure for the first half or so if I was enjoying it or not But as it built up to the end I was enthralled definitely the sign of a good bookThe delivery of the story was very uniue The entire story except for a few flashbacks takes place over the course of a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboy's game during the Gulf Conflict post 911 It concerns American heroes being honored and the reality of life in America vs military life in the Middle East being the catalyst for several interesting and intertwined storylines I don't know the background of the author and how much he knows about military life in person or researched but he does a really great job providing some raw realityWhat is the most amazing to me is how many storylines he fits into one football game Sure as a story you can bend time how you want but he does a pretty good job of making it seem reasonable that everything could have happened A great tear jerker that will make you think I am hoping that it is an on point depiction of how military personnel view life coming out of combat because it is very eye opening and in my opinion worth everyone reading to see that it isn't all justYay 'Murica

  5. K K says:

    Well that didn't take very long Mounting frustration a couple of critical if unusual goodreads reviews and that's it I feel validated now I'm uittingI wanted to blame the audio format but that doesn't usually get in the way when I'm truly enjoying a book I could say it's because it's a guy book but I've liked some guy books in my day admittedly they were a harder sell but not impossible for me to enjoyI guess the book just felt repetitive to me Not much of a plot; rather a string of linked events Every incident was crafted to bring home one or of the following points1 Soldiers in Ira and our hero in particular are really just ordinary 19 year old boys But now there's this huge divide between them and the rest of American society2 Americans spend a lot of money on stupid things3 Americans are naive about the war about the soldiers' experiences and about things in general4 War is bad5 War is really bad6 You stupid American civilians just don't get it do you?I just got tired of it after a while along with being hit over the head with the fact that Billy likes masturbating in his room now that he's home Geez I got it after one time do I have to hear about it every time? What artistic purpose is this serving exactly what new theme is this highlighting when all of the author's few points are being hammered in repeatedly as it is?I felt that Billy rather than being a character I could relate to conveniently alternated between being a cliche of a teenage guy and an introspective font of private wisdom And it wasn't as if any of the other characters particularly grabbed me eitherYes there were a few well written sentences Yes I guess the topic is arguably a profound one even if I didn't feel the book did it justice At all And so many discerning goodreaders whose opinions I truly respect loved this Raved about it So don't let my review put you off because I seem to be very much in the minority But I felt validated by the few negative reviews out there so if you're having the same experience as you read my review then I've done mine

  6. Kyle Kyle says:

    A brilliant exploration of the dissonance and disconnect between military life and civilian life in a time of war I can't recall the last time I've read a novel that skewers the American public so effectively and relentlessly This is the right novel for the last ten years of American wars perhaps THE novel for the War on TerrorGWOTLong Warwhatever the Pentagon is calling it these days There are several excellent memoirs and non fictional accounts of life on the modern battlefield The Forever War One Bullet Away Joker One Generation Kill but this novel heads straight for unexplored waters the patronizing superficial support of American citizens for their servicemen and the uniformly absurd way they react to a mention of the war or the presence of a soldier It is a story that could never be fully presented as a work of non fiction or journalism; every two bit patriot with a yellow ribbon on a minivan or an American flag in the front yard would be up in arms if they saw this account in a newspaper No this is the kind of story that can only be told at least in these contemporary times in a work of fiction and that's what Ben Fountain has done filled a gaping hole in our understanding of our recent foreign adventures But at its core the enemy of the good in this book is not patriotism but the self serving desire of the public to reduce the war down to something that is simple and easyand he wonders by what process virtually any discussion about the war seems to profane these ultimate matters of life and death As if to talk of such things properly we need a mode of speech near the eual of prayer otherwise just shut shut your yap and sit on it silence being truer to the experience than the star spangled spasm the bittersweet sob the redeeming hug or whatever this fucking closure is that everybody's talking about They want it to be easy and it's just not going to be With evocative descriptions and intervals of absurdist humor this book careens from the most profound uestions of life and death to the most base human desires At the end of the day it's not entirely clear whether the protagonists are Billy Lynn and Bravo or the American public and perhaps that's the point at some point the declaration of patriotism sympathy and support becomes less about the troops dying overseas than about the person making the declaration Negotiating that line is not an easy task but Ben Fountain has both identified the line and made a compelling case that many of us have crossed it which gives this novel a relevance that is at once very contemporary but also timeless There will always be something of a disconnect between those who have seen war and those who have not but the values of civilian society will determine whether that disconnect becomes a yawning chasmFunny absurd heartfelt and provocative

  7. Steve Steve says:

    It’s an old observation but true nonetheless Nineteen is a difficult age – old enough to get shot for your country but not to drink beer In Billy Lynn’s case it’s an age where there’s than that to sort out but with little training to draw on to get it all figured We’re pulling for you though BillyWhat SPC William Lynn was trained for was life in Bravo Company ground troops in Ira who showed exceptional bravery under fire Footage of their valor found its way into American living rooms and for PR reasons these new heroes were given a tour of appreciation back in the States It culminated at Texas Stadium Thanksgiving Day where the Cowboys were playing the Bears Go Bears Bravo was invited to participate in the halftime show Of course with Destiny’s Child as the musical act they all wanted to know if they’d get to meet Beyoncé The live action takes place the day of the game starting with the limo ride there with Billy downing five Jack and Cokes and ending with the limo picking them up afterwards – next stop Ira – again Flashbacks tell us about their war experiences We learn about their victory lap too as they were trotted out to various media events including one at the White House The most significant stop for Billy though was to an empty part of Texas There at home he saw his doting sisters long suffering mom and now disabled still ornery father He discovered the medical bills had outpaced his heroism At surface level though the whole tour was a chorus of “We Support Our Troops” and “Thank you for your service” It was nice to feel appreciated but it may have rung hollow after awhile And none of it paid the bills Nor did it offer reprieves – they all had war to go To a man though they knew what they’d signed up to doAt the game plot lines were shooting in all directions all at once A movie dealmaker was constantly on his cell trying to get the Bravo story on the silver screen and money in their pockets Then there were the texts from one of Billy’s sisters trying to arrange for him to skip out of his return And let’s not forget Billy’s newfound love a Cowboys cheerleader with a connection to his hometown The Cowboys organization was a story in itself from owner Norm who was as thinly disguised a version of Jerry Jones as Frankenstein would be in a Frankenstein mask to the players a subset of whom offered gangsta style assistance in Ira for a few days Most of the book worked well for me On the minus side though I found writing at times to be a tad overdone It can be a fine line Exuberance is tricky For me an author with a good ear can even border on purple and still be OK but other times it’s simply distracting Here’s an example; judge for yourselves “It’s just too much for his hangover all the mounds slabs sheets hummocks and hillocks of edible matter resembling a complex system of defensive earthworks and it’s that thing ness the sheer molecular density on display that gives him the lurch”Then a few pages later I think Fountain gets it just about right Describing the luxury box crowd “The men have the hale good looks and silver hair of successful bank presidents or midsized city mayors tanned fit sixty year olds who can still bring the heat on their tennis serves Their wives are substantially but not offensively younger all blondes all displaying the taut architectonics of surgical self improvement”Other passages show Fountain’s powers of observation To wit “Norm is confident absolutely he is the king of self esteem but this is the confidence of self help tapes and motivational mantras confidence learned as one learns a foreign language and so the accent lingers in his body language a faint arthritic creak in every smile and gesture”Back on the minus side were instances of implausibility I’ll skip past examples from the plot since I’ve said too much about that already but will ask if we should believe that a young man can drink beers and highballs than a dozen split a big joint and still answer interview uestions as lucidly as you please? While I’m at it do moms in Bugtussle TX really talk like the coolest urbanites in the ice tray? To pile on with one there were cases where I felt his stereotypes were a bit too convenient a notable exception being the born again Christian with an impetuous moment of passionAh but I’m being too picky The bottom line is Billy is great In a way he’s an every grunt but one that grows very aware He may not have been a scholar but he’s smart and seeking We can empathize completely as he searches for role models who can give him some wisdom and truth Shroom had been one but as Army buddies often do he met a bad end I mentioned before that not everything in the story seemed realistic but it was all very real to Billy This than compensates His feelings in the face of his conflicts seemed genuine and the book succeeds on those grounds; at its best spectacularly

  8. Hilary Hilary says:

    There are few things less enjoyable than poorly written satire and there are few time periods less interesting to set a book in than the very recent past decade or so past This book manages to combine both of these for a result that’s just as crappy as you’d imagine It’s satire with all the subtlety of “Goofus and Gallant” The plot is simple a small band of soldiers from Bravo suad which is a misnomer but that just shows the MEDIA DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE MILITARY who responded heroically in a firefight in Ira and who had a video of that response that went viral making them wildly popular heroes are on the final day of a two week Victory Tour in Dallas where they are attending the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game before shipping back to Ira because football Thanksgiving Texans super ‘Merica The soldiers don’t really know what they’re doing there because they aren’t told see man – it’s JUST LIKE THE WAR ITSELF and so they just sort of meander around drinking a lot and having a bunch of really rich stupid Texas stereotypes doing everything but yelling “Yee haw” while firing six shooters into the air and jangling their oil covered spurs tell them how proud they are of them and how much they support the war and how they all know President Bush Because a decade or so later it’s incredibly trenchant to note that rich Texans had a lot of influence with Bush and Cheney It’s time for me to fast track my book about how Deep Blue Something may not be the hit machine that “What About Breakfast at Tiffany’s” song might have had us believeOur protagonist Billy Flynn is the 19 year old soldier who played a key role in the fight and despite his lack of formal education he’s constantly disappearing into lengthy interior monologues referencing Sumerians and Turkmen and words like “homogenous” monologues in which he muses about America and things like how football players have like so much euipment and stuff and sometimes jackets are expensive and how America’s like one big mall with a country attached man and other such insights that would get you laughed out of a freshman sociology class at Antioch In the meantime the men of Bravo are working with a Hollywood producer who’s trying to sell their story who keeps coming over with stupid updates like “Hilary Swank’s interested now” which just leads Billy to have stupid second grade level thoughts about how Hollywood’s built on lies and stuff man fake than real It’s supposed to satirize the American public and what it means to support the troops but forced ridiculousness like involving the soldiers in a halftime show featuring Destiny’s Child or having Billy and a Cowboys cheerleader fall in love in a five hour period is a plot device I might expect in one of the lesser episodes of “Perfect Strangers” not in a novel that’s getting rave reviews across the board and being compared to Catch 22 If you want clever satire and something enjoyable to read skip this and pick up anything Evelyn Waugh ever wrote instead But Ben Fountain way to tell us that the Ira war is bad and to stick it to President Bush 10 years after that mattered That’s powerful stuff

  9. Sam Sam says:

    'If it's supposed to be this great Victory Tour then why can't he just stay home?Mr Whaley's voice was gentle 'It's fine young men like your brother who are going to lead us to victory''Not if they're dead' It took me much longer than I expected to finish Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk I couldn't put my finger on it at first until I realized I bookmarked nearly every other page for the first 100 or so pages This isn't a uiet book on balance it crackles and pops and is aggressive and muscular in its prose and in its smarts I'd read lines I like and go back and read them again and look for ideas and look for links and well I guess I got lost reading it in the best way possible which is pretty high praise for a novel At staged rallies for instance or appearances at malls or whenever TV or radio is present you are apt at some point to be lovingly mobbed by everyday Americans eager to show their gratitude then other times it's like you're invisible people just see right through you nothing registers Billy and Mango stand there eating scalding hot pizza and know that their fame is not their own Mainly it's another thing to laugh about this huge floating hologram of context and cut that leads everyone around by the nose Bravo included but Bravo can laugh and feel somewhat superior because they know they're being used Of course they do manipulation is their air and element for what is a soldier's job but to be the pawn of higher? Wear this say that go there shoot them then of course there's the final and ultimate be killed Every Bravo is a PhD in the art and science of duress The plot itself doesn't elapse over too much time it's the end of the Victory Tour for the Bravos instant stars in a 24 hour news cycle for defending a fallen comrade and holding off and killing insurgents in an outnumbered situation They return home heroes paraded around the country for media interviews and morale boosting In the events of the novel the Bravos are at a Cowboys Bears game on Thanksgiving Day and our protagonist Billy is bombarded with ideas and emotion as he navigates the day ahead of another deployment back to Ira Billy and his company especially Dime and the deceased Shroom are a wide ranging group of men with true brotherhood and camaraderie but also all with their own insecurities and demons from their war experiences or just from their real lives Billy wonders which is his true existence on a number of occasions and has to make a distinct choice by the end that tips his reality firmly into one camp or anotherOne can definitely get war book fatigue in the modern era but all are not the same nor are all created eually Ben Fountain's setting on the home front in between deployments is uniue as is putting the Bravos in a position to confront head on the commercialization of war My emotion and heart were completely invested in Billy's thoughts and choices This 19 year old boyman virginal and lusting smart but not fully educated a war hero and in search of leadership or inspiration we see the whole spectacle watching over Billy's shoulder We're as proud of him as the adoring fans who come up to him and ask the same uestions but through Billy's thoughts we also ask ourselves the readers of the home front if its fair for us to have put Billy in the position we have to send him multiple times to fight wars against unknown enemies for increasingly tenuous reasons to make a not fully grown kid become comfortable with killing and constantly putting his own too short life in the balance The thoughts Billy has the things Bravo says the way civilians interact with these briefly home heroes there's reflection and criticism and examination for the reader there too and thinking about it makes Billy somewhat bitter It's not that he's jealous so much as profoundly terrified Dread of returning to Ira euals the direst poverty and that's how he feels right now poor like a shabby homeless kid suddenly thrust in the company of millionaires Mortal fear is the ghetto of the human soul to be free of it something like the psychic euivalent of inheriting a hundred million dollars This is what he truly envies of these people the luxury of terror as a talking point and at this moment he feels so sorry for himself that he could break right down and cry So the subject is heavy but man is the writing fun It ranges from really smart clever uotes and artfully arranged sentences to just snappy dialogue that is incredibly revealing about the characters who utter the words The Bravos are funny despitebecause of their surreal situation at a Cowboys game rubbing shoulders with Hollywood producers and rich power brokers and gorgeous cheerleaders for their last free day before shipping out back to Ira It can be a macabre sense of humor but it's also silly crude smart I chuckled grinned and in some parts I laughed out loud This is a book with so much feeling so much verve I haven't been this entertained and informed since The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Fountain's prose keeps you off balance and on your toes but also pushes you into humor just when you think things are getting serious Mango grins cuts Billy a look 'Dude' he tells Hector 'we already going back'Hector suints 'Shittin' me''Shit you not Leaving Saturday''The fuck you gotta go back''Gotta finish our tour''The fuck The fuck you gotta go back after all you fuckin' done fuckin' heroes? Where's the fuckin' right in that? You guys done kicked your share a ass like when's they let you just coast on out?'Mango laughs 'The Army don't work that way They need bodies''Shit' Hector is scandalized 'For how long you gotta go?''Eleven months''Fuck' Sheer outrage 'You wanna go back?'The Bravos snort'Man Fuckin' harsh That just ain't right' Hector casts about 'Ain't they supposed to be making a movie about you?'Uh huh'And you still gotta go back? Fuck so what happens if you uh you uh ''Get smoked?' Billy offersHector turns away stricken'No worries homes' Mango says 'that's a totally different movie' Overall I found this a great read with really dynamic interesting characters set or less around a day in the life of Billy and the Bravos one pivotal surreal day of home life in between being at war And in addition to being highly entertaining and fun Fountain also manages to inform and provoke and get you as the reader to ask some occasionally uncomfortable uestions of yourself There were parts that I found slightly heavy handed or didn't work uite as well as others Billy falling in love with the Cowboys cheerleader and their encounter the meeting with the Jerry Jones stand in but overall I liked it a lot would enthusiastically recommend it and would probably re read it in the future

  10. Jill Jill says:

    It is perhaps a fortuitous accident that I turned the last pages of Ben Fountain’s absolutely brilliant novel during Memorial Daya day when rhetoric about courage support sacrifice and patriotism overflowsBilly Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero He and his fellow Bravo Suad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Ira They are brought home for a media intensive “Victory Tour” – in cities that happen to lie in an electoral swing state to reinvigorate support for the war We meet them at the end of that tour on a rainy Thanksgiving hosted by America’s Team The Dallas CowboysThey are in ways than one anonymous to an American public; their reinvented names are meant to erase their identity Major Mac Mango Lodes Billy etc In the fabled Texas Stadium their faces are interspersed on a JumboTron screen with ads for Chevy cars and Cowboy brand toaster ovens and high capacity ice makers Surrounded by so called patriots Billy and his friends are bombarded with words stripped of meaning “rerrRist currj freedom nina leven Bush values support” Billy reflects “They hate our freedoms? Yo they hate our actual guts Billy suspects his fellow Americans secretly know better but something in the land is stuck on teenage drama on extravagant theatrics of ravaged innocence and soothing mud wallows of self justifying pity”The people that surround him are insatiably expecting Billy to impart wisdom in sound bites Amid a world of plenty multi millionaires who have never put themselves in harm’s way let loose a stream of platitudes but Billy “truly envies these people the luxury of terror as a talking point” At another point he reflects “Never do Americans sound so much like a bunch of drunks as when they are celebrating at the end of their national anthem”Nineteen year old Billy – still a virgin with major lust going on for a Cowboys cheerleader who believes that cheerleading is a “spiritual calling” – has the necessary replies to inane uestions down pat He is as real as he can be as American as he can beAnd in this way Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk –marketed as a satire and blurbed as a new Catch 22 – is anything but There is nothing surreal about it; in fact it is an entirely apt portrayal of the times we live in I thought this book was absolutely brilliant – well crafted filled with insight and wisdom and heart wrenching In fact I’d go so far as to call it the uintessential American novel asking that all important uestion who are we and what do we want to become?

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