Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
What’s it about?
Fox news is embedded with troops in Iraq when a fierce firefight with insurgents breaks out. Eight members of Bravo Squad make it out alive and become instant American heroes. They are brought home for a two-week publicity tour to garner support for the troops. Specialist Billy Lynn is among them and narrates the story as the squad spends Thanksgiving Day as guests of the Dallas Cowboys.
What did I think?
This was a very thought provoking book. Not only do we get a snapshot of the soldiers, but Ben Fountain parallels their reality with that of the big business of the NFL. It certainly makes you think. The encounters between the well-meaning fans and the soldiers of Bravo Squad are unaccountably sad. As Billy says, “To learn what you have to learn at war, to do what you have to do, does this make you the enemy of all that sent you to war.” Do the rest of us ever really understand? Of course not, but this book gives a unique perspective.
Should you read it?
Certainly this is a well-written book about a very timely subject. While the story was not always fast paced, this book was interesting, and I really liked Billy Lynn.
“Could it be that advertising is the main thing? And maybe the game is just an ad for the ads. It’s too much anyway what they want from it. Such a humongous burden the game has to bear, so many advertising dollars, such huge salaries, such enormous outlays for physical plant and infrastructure that you can practically hear the sport groaning under the massive load, and the idea stresses Billy out, the gross imbalance triggers a tweezing in his gut like the first queasy tugs of a general unraveling.”
If you like this try-
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Girl at War by Sara Novic
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
some favorites of the last decade
best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!