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
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"
Engaging writing, well observed and funny. But the premise--a group of American soldiers being honored at a Cowboys' game--couldn't quite sustain an entire novel. Lots of throat clearing and speechifying, and some unpleasing repetitions of action and event. A really wonderful concept wasn't quite as wonderful a listen.
Lack of plot. I got very tired of all of the angst.
Moved the setting.
Almost all of them.
I listened for 2 hours and had to stop.
While there were flashes of insight and some well-turned phrases, the majority of this book was a bit of a tedious read. Same old, same old relevations about war, America, etc., with a bit of cheerleader fantasy added in. I really did not like the story itself, but I loved the narrator's delivery. He was able to capture each character with an entirely different voice and persona, which made this a far more tolerable listening experience.
I am scratching my head over this one. I think it is more a misconception over what I thought I was getting, and the new paperback cover depicts that story better. This is really not a war / military book, it is a Dallas Cowboy Thanksgiving Day book which centers on the experience from the point of view of some US soldiers who are stateside for a short publicity tour. It is not a bad book, just not a good choice for me.
Ben Fountain's short stories "Close Encounters with Che Guevara" was one of my favorite books. This is an experimental novel, with no plot, in a nondescript setting. There are no characters either. There's a movie producer who's a caricature of movie producers. Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old who was given a choice between prison or the army. Beyond that he has no backstory. No other character has a backstory. The soldiers on leave just eat pizza and drink beer and call each other gay. I gave up after 2.5 hours. The writing is good but it's not a novel.
Didn't really live up to the reviews I read prior to purchasing the audiobook. The first half of the book was kind of dull but picked up in the 2nd half. I suppose to make a good story everything needs to be taken to an extreme (behavior, emotions etc...). This just felt too extreme and out of the norm for a situation like this.
Not a bad story but nothing I would recommend.
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