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.
"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.
Both hilarious and heartbreaking.
As close to the Great American Novel as anyone is likely to come these daysan 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 Lynns Long Halftime Walk (The Catch-22 of the Iraq War Karl Marlantes). A razor sharp satire set in Texas during Americas war in Iraq, it explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. Fountains 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.
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.