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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk


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Sheryll-Ann, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by Sheryll-Ann)
This book perfectly illustrated the way many Americans have become obsessed with inserting ourselves into every situation we deem newsworthy. Even down to rubbing elbows with war heroes to make ourselves feel more important and impressive. It also calls attention to the country's caste system of haves and have-nots; the have-nots often being on the front lines of our wars. And the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas, much like the coming Super Bowl, showcases our infatuation with celebrity, and the need to create huge moments in almost every event. All of this is done with a dark humor that I found very appealing. I will never be able to hear the term "9/11" without thinking of Nina Levin again.
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TDSmith, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by TDSmith)
Billy Lynn, Iraq war hero on tour, sees Americans for what they are -- phony, materialistic, insincere. Everything is for show, including "honoring" the servicemen. "Overcaffinated prose," one reviewer said, but I diasgree. Near-perfect writing -- original, jaw-dropping wording, provocative images ... combo of Conrad and Vonnegut: Oh my people.
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James Ruland, January 3, 2013 (view all comments by James Ruland)
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain is stuffed so full of Americana, it’s enough to make the most effusive red-stater blush.

Set on Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium, the novel follows an Army infantry unit as they prepare to take part in the football game’s half-time festivities that will feature Destiny’s Child. We meet Specialist Billy Lynn and the rest of the Bravo squad on the final day of a two-week Victory Tour through the United States. The Bravos find themselves the focus of intense patriotic fervor after an embedded Fox News crew filmed them repelling Iraqi insurgents on the banks of Al-Ansakar Canal.

Billy is the focal point for the public. He earned a Silver Star for his heroics that day and bears the scrutiny better than most by playing the role of the humble soldier and tuning out the rhetoric. Words like “terrRist,” “nina leven” and “currj” drift in and out of Billy’s consciousness like a tone poem by Kenneth Patchen.

What the viewers at home don’t realize is that Billy’s actions were a response to the death of the soldier who served as his mentor and moral compass. Without him, Billy’s adrift in a sea of jingoistic lingo. But when the cameras are off, the Bravos are crass, crude and unrepentantly lewd with little on their minds but free, luxury-suite liquor and Beyoncé’s bountiful bootie.

Ironies abound in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which was nominated for a National Book Award. The Dallas Cowboys franchise emerges as a perfect symbol of America during the Bush years: a once-proud but now thoroughly mediocre team hijacked by a bumbling, no-nothing owner who acquired the franchise through oil money. Remind you of anyone?

The dirty little secret behind the Bravos’ Victory Tour is that when it’s over, they have to go back to Iraq, a fact that outrages everyone��"from Billy’s liberal-leaning sister to the Christian Cowboys cheerleader who falls for him to the ultra-rich boosters who backslap the Bravos in the luxury box.

And there’s the catch-22. If you celebrate the Bravos’ achievements, then you have to support sending them back into harm’s way. The fact that none of the characters do underscores the secret that so many red-blooded Americans were reluctant to admit: The only possible outcome for Bush’s bogus war was failure.

That’s a reality that no one on America’s Team can stomach.
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Brandon Duncan, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Brandon Duncan)
A book whose plot involves the prospect of a film treatment that I think would itself make for a good piece of movie-making, preferably in the style of those 70s BBS productions like Five Easy Pieces. It's a funny and relatively poignant novel, written with a steady grasp of reality, except for a few aspects that seem a little too superficial or facile (e.g., references to Fox News, the clouds of War On Terror words in their native dialects).
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ChopinBlues2, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by ChopinBlues2)
This book has something for everyone -- can't imagine anyone not liking it!
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Product Details

Fountain, Ben
Ecco Press
Wyman, Oliver
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
9 x 6 x 0.97 in 17.78 oz

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk New Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Ecco Press - English 9780060885595 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Unfolding over the course of one Thanksgiving Day, Fountain's (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara) second novel follows Bravo Company, the eight survivors of a savage clash with Iraqi insurgents, on the last leg of their government-sponsored 'Victory Tour' in this witty and ironic sendup of middle America, Fox News politics, and, of all things, football. One minute, the soldiers are drinking Jack and Cokes, mobbed by hordes of well-wishers demanding autographs and seeking 'the truth' about what's 'really going on' over there; the next, they're in the bowels of Texas Stadium, reluctantly hobnobbing with the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders, brokering a movie deal with a smarmy Hollywood producer, and getting into a drunken scuffle with the stadium's disgruntled road crew, all in a series of uncomfortable scenes that border on the farcical. Texan Billy Lynn is the 19-year-old hero who learns about life and himself on his visit home to his family, and the palpable camaraderie between soldiers ground the book. But despite much valid pontificating on what it means to be a soldier and the chasm that exists between the American public's perception of the war and the blunt reality of it, the often campy writing style and canned dialogue ('We, like, we wanna do somethin' like you. Extreme, you know, cap some Muslim freaks...') prevents the message from being delivered effectively. Agent: Heather Schroder, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Ben Fountain's Halftime is as close to the Great American Novel as anyone is likely to come these days — an extraordinary work that captures and releases the unquiet spirit of our age, and will probably be remembered as one of the important books of this decade."
"Review" by , "Ben Fountain stormed to the front lines of American fiction when he published his astonishing...Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. His first novel will raise his stature and add to his splendid reputation. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is both hilarious and heartbreaking."
"Review" by , "So much of Fountain's work...reads with an easy grace....[S]ometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it's just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table."
"Review" by , "[T]he Catch-22 of the Iraq War....Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become. Live one day inside Billy Lynn's head and you'll never again see our soldiers or America in the same way."
"Review" by , "[T]he shell-shocked humor will likely conjure comparisons with Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five....War is hell in this novel of inspired absurdity."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is not merely good; it's Pulitzer Prize-quality good....A bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public."
"Review" by , "Brilliantly done...grand, intimate, and joyous."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A truly wondrous first novel."
"Review" by , "Fountain is the Pen/Hemingway Award winner of the bristly and satisfying Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, so I expect lots from this book."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a big one. This is the brush-clearing Bush book we've been waiting for."
"Review" by , "It's a darkly humorous satire about the war at home, absurd and believable at the same time."
"Review" by , "Here is a novel that is deeply engaged with our contemporary world, timely and timeless at once. Plus, it's such fun to read."
"Review" by , "Darkly comic....Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum."
"Review" by , "To call Fountain's work enjoyable would be an understatement because it quite simply is one of the best novels written in the past five years."
"Synopsis" by , “Both hilarious and heartbreaking.”

—Pat Conroy

“As close to the Great American Novel as anyone is likely to come these days—an extraordinary work that captures and releases the unquiet spirit of our age, and will probably be remembered as one of the important books of this decade.”

—Madison Smartt Bell

Ben Fountain, the PEN/Hemingway award-winning author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, makes a brilliant foray into long-form fiction with 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. 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.

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