National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2013
A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal" - three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew - has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war.
Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child.
Among the Bravos is the Silver Star-winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys' hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family - his worried sisters and broken father - and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy's mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.
Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms - soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.
Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain's reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.
©2012 Ben Fountain (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
I had heard so much buzz about this book, I expected to love it or at least laugh out loud at moments. Billy Lynn is ok. Fountain wants us to believe that Billy Lynn is really struggling with returning to Iraq after coming back to the US on leave after a significant skirmish victory. The problem is that there really never seemed to be a question as to whether or not he would return with his squad; just that he is getting some pressure from his sister to act a certain way. That said, the main conflict was not believable for me. What was more intriguing was 19 year old Billy's observations of successful businessmen and what it took for them to succeed. This seemed to provide impetuous for Billy, perhaps for the first time, to think about his long term future, not just day by day living. Billy Lynn is not a bad book; I just think that it was overhyped.
This book just kept getting better. The novel takes place in one day, at one football game. The more I listened, the more surprises and turns of plot. The author has a great feel for 2004 and life in Texas and football and film agents and guys on teams and, yes, young love. The narrator was very strong, good with his characters' voices. I will read The Yellow Birds next, the other highly praised Iraq war novel--but this one was entertaining and insightful. Very sympathetic characters too.
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.
intellectual property lawyer, avid reader
The contrast between the soldiers and the public.
Billy Lynn's sister--her story and Billy's in parallel.
The contrast between the common movie-like impression and the actual experience of war.
The incomprehensibility of the battlefield and the experience of those who fought, who observed death of close "buddies", is described in stark contrast with popular thought and beliefs.
This work demonstrates the private world derived from life on the frontline of death.
It describes a world that is dramatically different from normal civilian life. Crossing from the world of a soldier in Iraq or Afganistan, to the world of civilians is portrayed as inordinately difficult, perhaps impossible for some, because of misconceptions of the experience of the battlefield.
This book helps put to rest the movie image of a soldier returning home. It provides an insight to the overwhelming problems many soldiers face adjusting to civilian life and relating to people's gross misconceptions of their actual daily experience on the battlefield.
lack of plot. two hours in and the football game still hadn't started. though Wyman's performance of the different characters was outstanding, they weren't remarkable enough for me to keep track of while listening. overall the parts I listened to were very disjointed. never got hooked.
he's a very talented narrator and did an amazing job differentiating the voices and accents of all the men.
This is a sharp, hilarious and heartbreaking satire, beautifully performed (not just read) by Oliver Wyman. I enjoyed every minute of this book.
sure, but with the caveat that it's a little dated.
I loved the slow pace of every unfolding moment.
Fantastic voices that were very easy to follow.
Everything is made into a movie.
Nearly 12 wonderful hours of audio about a day at a Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game which allows the author Ben Fountain to masterfully provide us with a sometime-satirical panoramic view from the seat of Billy Lynn, a U.S. soldier who is flying back to Iraq the following day. He and the fellow members of the heroic Bravo Squad are being recognized as halftime.
We get a cinematic look at
a pro football game;
the war in Iraq and its impact on these young men's lives;
how heroes may be treated after all the hubbub or exploited;
our culture generally, and specifically, in movies and the entertainment (movies and music) industry, big time sports, billionaires blow-hards, the overwhelming emphasis on sex in advertising and television and how our society has reached the point that our press covers no-talent trog-GLAM-mites like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton while ignoring legit stories.
There's a bonus: a near-fantasy sequence when Billy meets a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
Maybe you hadn't heard of Ben Fountain before this brilliant book was published. Pay attention. I'm not capable of quickly using the vocabulary needed to heap worthy praise upon Ben Fountain and "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."
So I'll say:
DO NOT MISS 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.
52 year old electrical engineer with a thirst for knowledge but who is nevertheless easily distracted by a great vicarious escape.
Ben Fountain has written a unique, intriguing and entertaining book. You won't be blown away by it, but nor will you be sorry you gave it a go.
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