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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Ben Fountain

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
736None12,609 (4.04)118
Member:mollygrace
Title:Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Authors:Ben Fountain
Info:Ecco (2012), Hardback, 308 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:novel

Work details

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (2012)

2012 (11) 2013 (13) 21st century (5) American (6) American literature (8) army (6) audiobook (5) contemporary fiction (5) Dallas (6) Dallas Cowboys (7) ebook (13) fiction (120) football (20) Iraq (23) Iraq War (35) Kindle (17) library (5) literature (7) military (11) novel (16) own (5) read (9) read in 2013 (10) soldiers (10) Texas (17) to-read (37) unread (5) USA (6) veterans (5) war (33)
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» See also 118 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
It's not often that I don't finish I book, but I didn't feel bad about only listening to just about half of this one. I just did not care about the characters or the story at all. Billy's angst over his experiences as a soldier, and the pointlessness of life in general, didn't interest me much as he seemed to just go round and round in his musings and memories without coming up with anything hopeful or meaningful to me.
Others have read it and loved it so it does have it's readers. Probably people that also like Olive Kitteridge--another well reviewed book that I just couldn't get into. ( )
  debs4jc | Apr 9, 2014 |
What is the point of this book?
1. War is bad, the general public doesn't understand war- just materialism.
2. Stereotyping characters in a book over and over again makes for good writing.
3. Bashing conservatives, Christians and George W Bush appeals to fellows authors, book critics and other elites.
4. Show people behaving like buffoons or worse makes the book edgy.
5. The people of Texas and Cowboy fans are just rich dumb bubbas, surprising coming from and author who lives in Dallas.
This book became boring within the first 50 pages, and then was just a continuous loop of repetition. At no time did I ever care about any character in this book.
This book also proved a general rule That I have observed more and more, especially recently, which is: if a book gets glowing rave reviews by employed critics 9 times out of 10 it is going to suck. This book proved that over and over.
It was poor satire, it is not on par with any of the books it has been compared to, such as Catch22 and Slaughterhouse Five. ( )
  zmagic69 | Mar 18, 2014 |
Recommend !!
Whooaaaa . . let's stop and think about this one. To be a young person (especially male) in America with war and major league football to compare. Made me dizzy to think of all the absurdities so glaringly revealed in this brief snapshot of the Bravo Company's Heroic 2 week tour - - -being famous for the worst day / several minutes of your life. Then being "paraded" around the country as a way to "sell the war" to oblivious Americans, monied football fanatics, etc. Then being immediately sent back to the war zone. Wow!
He has opportunity to make a different choice - how would you handle that choice?
Billy Lynn is well portrayed - small town Texas boy - with his first encounters into many aspects of life - rather like a young person's first year away from home at college - except he's already had a best friend die in his arms. He's a person who will make a mark in life and one of the cheerleaders - omg, seems to have become immediately smitten with him . . . .
Wonder what the next weeks will bring? ( )
  CasaBooks | Mar 14, 2014 |
Highly recommend to everyone who is NOT a self-described conservative. Ben Fountain is a gifted and intelligent writer. Funny but also heart-breaking. Great characters. This book was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. ( )
  jaylcee | Feb 17, 2014 |
The soldiers of Bravo Company are on a victory tour after a nationally televised firefight in Iraq. They’re the current national heroes and special guests at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game, where they meet not only the regular folk, but “the ballers,” the people with money and egos to match, who “if they aren’t quite as flawlessly handsome as models or movie actors, they certainly possess the vitality and style of, say, the people in a Viagra advertisement.”

Much of the story is through the eyes of Billy Lynn, considered the hero of the firefight at Al-Ansakar Canal. The soldiers of Bravo realize their fame is fleeting and they may not be alive much longer to enjoy it. There’s a movie deal in the works and they’re accompanied by a producer. Killers, authentic, “they are the Real. They have dealt much death and received much death.” Bravo returns to the war in two days, and “here in the chicken-hawk nation of blowhards and bluffers, Bravo always has the ace of bloods up its sleeve.”

The story takes place during the game. The decaying stadium, the hype enveloping the game, and the team itself take many hits as a stand-in for America. The actual game is boring. The coach “stalks the sidelines with the addled look of a man who can’t remember where he parked his car.” The fans have “a kind of clinical, gorillas-in-the-mist absorption,” “fogged in by the general bewilderment of life.”

It all seems false to Billy Lynn, who considers himself a “normal, frustrated ADD grunt whose inner life is mostly overcooked sex fantasies.” He thinks maybe “the realest things in the world these days are the things in his head.” Observations and truths are couched in humor, much as Bravo Company uses humor to survive. “Dude, maybe they don’t hate our freedoms, maybe they hate our fat!”

This is a searing portrait of America at war. Maybe the true value of this book is that it makes you want to not be a hypocritical asshole. ( )
  Hagelstein | Feb 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Every two or three years, if I'm lucky, I get my hands on a novel that I simply can't shut up about, a novel I shout from my humble mountaintop to anyone who will listen, a novel that I hand-sell any time I have a literate audience of one or more. In many cases, I'll purchase this novel, over and over and over, and put it in the hands of readers....One novel this year blew the top of my head off like no other, and that was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain....

No brow-beating, no navel gazing and no ranting. Just great storytelling, fully realized characters and sentences that crackle. In short, Fountain makes it look easy.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Jonathan Evison (Nov 28, 2012)
 
The novel is niftily postmodern, in that it deals with a heavily mediated reality. Bravo squad aren't even called Bravo squad, but that was what the "Fox embed" christened them. They hear their story being spun in real time: "Carl, what can I say?" says Albert, the movie producer, on the phone. "It's a war picture – not everybody gets out alive." The stadium is dominated by the huge "Jumbotron" screen; Billy wonders whether "maybe the game is just an ad for the ads". But Fountain, like better-known writers of his generation such as Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, has dragged this ironic, media-saturated style back in the direction of sincerity, with rich, sharply drawn characters that you care about. Beneath the dazzle, there's a story as old and simple as Kipling's poem "Tommy": "They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls, / But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!"
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jul 6, 2012)
 
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.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Nance Pearl (May 21, 2012)
 
There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel. (The whole story, with the exception of a flashback or two, takes place during the course of a single afternoon.) Billy and the other Bravos are, for the most part, uneducated, but they possess a rare intelligence that allows them to see things as they really are, which is not exactly the way the pro-war meme generators want Americans to see them.

By the novel’s end, we’re forced to reassess what it means to “support the troops.” Does it simply mean letting them know they’re in our prayers as we send them back into battle and go about our business? Does it mean turning them into gaudy celebrities? Or could there perhaps be a more honorable and appropriately humble way to commemorate their service? “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” asks us to consider the uncomfortable possibility that we don’t really know the answer anymore.
 

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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060885599, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2012: Billy Lynn and his Bravo squad mates have become heroes thanks to an embedded Fox News crew’s footage of their firefight against Iraqi insurgents. During one day of their bizarre Victory Tour, set mostly at a Thanksgiving Day football game at Texas Stadium, they’re wooed by Hollywood producers, smitten by Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and share a stage at halftime with Beyonce. Guzzling Jack and Cokes and scuffling with fans, the Bravos are conflicted soldiers. “Okay, so maybe they aren’t the greatest generation,” writes debut author (!) Ben Fountain, who manages a sly feat: giving us a maddening and believable cast of characters who make us feel what it must be like to go to war. Veering from euphoria to dread to hope, Billy Lynn is a propulsive story that feels real and true. With fierce and fearless writing, Fountain is a writer worth every accolade about to come his way. --Neal Thompson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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