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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walkby Ben Fountain
Synopses & Reviews
A finalist for the National Book Award!
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.
"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is not merely good; its Pulitzer Prize-quality good....A bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Brilliantly done...grand, intimate, and joyous.” New York Times Book Review
“[An] inspired, blistering war novel….Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn's surreal game day experience.” New York Times
“A masterful echo of ‘Catch-22, with war in Iraq at the center.…[A] gut-punch of a debut novel.…There's hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain's sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel.” Washington Post
“Fountain's excellent first novel follows a group of soldiers at a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day.…Through the eyes of the titular soldier, Fountain creates a minutely observed portrait of a society with woefully misplaced priorities. [Fountain has] a pitch-perfect ear for American talk.” The New Yorker
“Biting, thoughtful, and absolutely spot-on....This postmodern swirl of inner substance, yellow ribbons, and good(ish) intentions is at the core of Ben Fountain's brilliant Bush-era novel.” The Daily Beast
“Ben Fountain combines blistering, beautiful language with razor-sharp insight…and has written a funny novel that provides skewering critiques of America's obsession with sports, spectacle, and war.” Huffington Post
“A brilliantly conceived first novel....The irony, sorrow, anger and examples of cognitive dissonance that suffuse this novel make it one of the most moving and remarkable novels I've ever read.” Nancy Pearl, NPR, Morning Edition
“Seething, brutally funny…[Fountain] leaves readers with a fully realized band of brothers.…Fountain's readers will never look at an NFL Sunday, or at America, in quite the same way.” Sports Illustrated
“The Iraq war hasn't yet had its Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five, but Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a contender….A wicked sense of humor, wonderful writing and, beneath the anger and outrage, a generous heart.” Tampa Bay Times
“Fountain's strength as a writer is that he not only can conjure up this all-too-realistic-sounding mob, but also the young believably innocent soul for our times, Specialist Billy Lynn. And from the first page I found myself rooting for him, often from the edge of my seat.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[T]he shell-shocked humor will likely conjure comparisons with Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five.…War is hell in this novel of inspired absurdity.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A truly wondrous first novel.” Shelf Awareness
“While Fountain undoubtedly knows his Graham Greene and Paul Theroux, his excursions into foreign infernos have an innocence all their own. In between his nihilistic descriptions, a boyishness keeps peeking out, cracking one-liners and admiring the amazing if benighted scenery.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a big one. This is the brush-clearing Bush book we've been waiting for.” Harper's Magazine
“It's a darkly humorous satire about the war at home, absurd and believable at the same time.” Esquire
“Darkly comic.…Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum.” Los Angeles Times
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award!
From the PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, comes Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk ("The Catch-22 of the Iraq War" —Karl Marlantes).
A razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq, it explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad.
Ben Fountain's remarkable debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys, their fans, promoters, and cheerleaders.
The Western and the war story combine when an elite Special Forces unit searches for treasure on horseback in the borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The book’s pacing is cinematic . . . adrenalized.” — New York Times
“Rich in equestrian and military detail . . . It’d take wild horses to pull you away.” — Entertainment Weekly
When Corporal Elijah Russell’s superb horsemanship is revealed during a firefight in northern Iraq, the young army Ranger is assigned to an elite Special Forces unit preparing to stage a secret mission in eastern Afghanistan. Russell’s task is to train the Green Berets — fiercely loyal to their enigmatic commander, Captain Wynne — to ride the horses they will use to execute this mission through treacherous mountain terrain. But as the team presses farther into enemy territory, the nature of the operation only becomes more mysterious and Wynne’s charismatic power takes on a darker cast. Ultimately, Russell finds himself forced to make a choice: on one side, his best friend and his most deeply held beliefs; on the other, a commanding officer driven by a messianic zeal for his mission. This taut, action-packed novel fuses the Western and the war story into a compellingly original tale.
“This novel feels like Cormac McCarthy meets Tim O’Brien. I could not stop reading it.” — Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
[author photo] © Mark Fortenberry
A finalist for the National Book Award!
Three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare with Iraqi insurgents has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. Now they're on a media-intensive nationwide tour to reinvigorate support for the war. On this rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside Destiny's Child.
Among the Bravos is Specialist Billy Lynn. Surrounded by patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers, he is thrust into the company of the Cowboys' owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Over the course of this day, 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.
About the Author
Ben Fountain is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. He has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, among other honors and awards. His fiction has been published in Harper's, the Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Stories from the South: The Year's Best, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and the New York Times Sunday Magazine, among other publications. His coverage of post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life. He and his family live in Dallas, Texas.
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