Too much of a stretch to be believed it's almost science fiction. War hero comes home to tour the US (flags of our fathers) the bangs a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Racial stereotypes. The author tried too hard to write something he doesn't seem to know a lot. I heard this was "the best novel about the Iraq War." needless to say this most not be that book. I heard they are making a movie. I won't be watching it. This book was a continuous let down.
This story seemed to be a vehicle for the author to portray people from Texas, Cowboys fans, and politically conservative Americans to be naive, thick, idiots. The book spends a lot of time trying to portray the Texans that Billy meets to be as patriotic, ignorant, idiots. It tries to draw a contrast to what average Americans think of the motivation was for the war in Iraq and what the 'Bravos' think the reality is.
Nothing was wrong with the narration.
Most of the Texans that the author tries to make look like idiots.
I did a year in Iraq with the Army myself (07-08). Soldiers know what they are getting into when they volunteer. I was glad to go and glad to return. No, civilians don't really know what it is like to be in a combat zone and go into harms way. But guess what, I don't expect them to. I don't judge civilians for not knowing what they cannot possibly know. BTW: I am not from Texas and I do not watch Fox News.
Typical story of combat vets dealing with the ridiculous civilian world. Army dialog is always amusing and gets to the real nature of things. Implausible story about a Dallas cheerleader.
There will be a movie released this year that can't possibly be as good as the book. I have listened multiple times because the reader and the material are a perfect match. The imagery and undercurrent here are humorous in a cynical way. It's Texas, the Bush years, patriotism of the saddest kind, Cowboy football, good 'ol boys, and the young, handsome Billy Lynn, a pawn of the machine along with his compatriots from Alpha Company. Great novel, and great reading. Please write another novel, Ben Fountain!
I’d heard a lot of good things about this book, but it took my old student Alex Barbolish recommending it to get it to the front of my queue. I’m glad he did since this is the best book I’ve read in weeks, and it strikes me as one of the best mirrors of our moment that I’ve seen.
It’s hard not to think of this book in conversation with other American war novels, particularly Catch-22. Both of these are satires, even farces, yet there’s something much gentler about Billy Lynn. If Joseph Heller was trying to channel his fresh anger and outrage at the idea of war, Ben Fountain is dealing with a refrain: we all know war is stupid and, in a post-Vietnam era with a war founded on what many of us have come to see as Bush’s “lies” about the real threat of Saddam, it’s old news that governments risk young men’s lives for obscure purposes.
If the news is old, though, the story is always new. Billy has heroically come to the near rescue of one of his friends in an experience that seems more authentic on television than through his memory or his testimony. It’s been since Hemingway (and maybe even Crane) that we recognize how difficult it is to tell your own war story, but Bill has to discover that truth all over again.
Instead of going down the earnest path of, most notably, Tim O’Brien, though, Fountain explores the problem through absurdity. Here are Billy and his friends, a day before going back to Iraq, being celebrated by the Dallas Cowboys and weighed for participation in a major motion picture.
If Catch-22 puts its satire in neon, this is done in water color. Fountain has a great capacity for letting the absurd sneak up on us. His caricature of the Cowboys owner reveals itself only slowly. (And it’s all the funnier if you know, as most of us do, the original in Jerry Jones.) He nails the voice, the self-importance, and the blindness to hypocrisy, and the result is a gradual juxtaposition of a very silly, frighteningly influential man alongside the decency of a common soldier.
The sub-plot of the cheerleaders works brilliantly, too. Against all odds, one beautiful girl is “really into” Billy, and he has to toggle between such extraordinary good fortune and the realization that his commitment to the army will almost certainly take it away from him. She is a dream girl, but he begins to realize she is necessarily just that: a dream who can’t exist in real life, the real life of what the novel calls at one wonderful point, “the best of the bottom third of their generation.” (I may have that quote off a little, but the spirit is there.)
If all those details and that mastery of tone weren’t enough, Fountain also finds a thoroughly satisfying metaphor for the heart of this book. If the idea of a ‘long walk at half-time’ doesn’t quite nail what’s going on, the title does evoke the underlying insight of the book. We’re at a cultural moment when we simply don’t have the apparatus to appreciate the experience of people like Billy, ordinary, even small people who find themselves in the middle of great events they neither understand nor endorse. We’re all caught in spectacle, and the images of our experience threaten to drown out that experience itself.
I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what makes this work so well. It’s a terrific book, and it will be good to see whether Fountain can deliver again next time.
This is a sharp, hilarious and heartbreaking satire, beautifully performed (not just read) by Oliver Wyman. I enjoyed every minute of this book.
Usually war books don't do it for me. But this story is so wholly different, I not only enjoyed it, but recommended to to several people. The entire story takes place on Thanksgiving Day, when Billy and his crew are attending a Cowboys game before deploying back to Iraq. Although everything unfolds over one day, the author manages to weave in a lot of other threads - about their time in Iraq, about the friendship the guys share, about the family drama on the home-front. It's a cleverly constructed story, but what I enjoyed most was the humor - both in the form of dialogue between the soldiers (which may offend some because it's f-bomb heavy, but it rang true and hilarious to me), and the more subtle humor, which the author used to deliver an almost-under-the-radar political commentary.
Never read the print version. I imagine this version is better because Oliver Wyman is such a damn good reader.
Catch-22, humor, sadness, satire
So many wonderful character voices. he is a one-of-a-kind reader. His reading made this one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to, out of about twenty.
"Oh, My People"
way up there
the image-packed prose
I'm not sure. Did he do The Art of Fielding?
there were many
sometimes -- and this may be because I listened to the book -- I felt the prose got very packed with images and details. Obviously good images and good details make for a literary experience, but there were places where the author waxed when I wish he'd waned. But the guy is a tremendous writer and deserves all the praise he got for this book. It's not a rollicking narrative, but it is a beautiful example of meditative prose. The interiority of the novel is amazing and you can tell the author is somebody who really thinks and ruminates and this is why he is to be treasured.
Soldiers meet home front
the tour of the equipment room and the locker room
there are too many to isolate
I found this book familiar, funny and sad. It has very interesting incites on domestic patriotism in contemporary American (Texan) Society. Everyone loves the troops, to the extent they can leverage them or co-brand. I was in the military and ther perspective is definitely familiar.