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Product Description

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.

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

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.” -- San Francisco Chronicle

“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

“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

“Brilliantly done . . . grand, intimate, and joyous.” -- New York Times Book Review

“For Memorial Day why not turn to a biting, thoughtful, and absolutely spot-on new novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk…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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“[A] masterly . . . tightly structured book [with] a sprawling amount of drama and emotion.” -- The Rumpus

“Passionate, irreverent, utterly relevant Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk offers an unforgettable portrait of a reluctant hero. Ben Fountain writes like a man inspired and his razor sharp exploration of our contemporary ironies will break your heart.” -- Margot Livesey

“[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

“[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.” -- Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn

“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.” -- Pat Conroy

“Fountain is the Pen/Hemingway Award winner of the bristly and satisfying Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, so I expect lots from this book.” -- Barbara''s Picks, Library Journal

“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.” -- Madison Smartt Bell

“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

“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.” -- Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

“Here is a novel that is deeply engaged with our contemporary world, timely and timeless at once. Plus, it’s such fun to read.” -- The Millions

“The chasm between the reality and the glorification of war hasn’t been this surreal since Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.” -- Sacramento Bee

“…wickedly affecting…Billy Lynn has courted some Catch-22 comparisons, and they’re well-earned. Fountain is a whiz at lining up plausible inanities and gut-twisting truths for the Bravos to suffer through.” -- Philadelphia City Paper

“[A] wonderfully readable book [which] does something similar to Why Are We in Vietnam?, asking hard questions about the cultural short-sightedness that contributed to our involvement in Iraq. As a veteran myself, I can attest that it’s spot on.” -- BookRiot

“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.” -- Texas Books in Review

“The best book about the Iraq War and Destiny’s Child that you’ll ever read.” -- Entertainment Weekly

From the Back Cover

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 was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in the tobacco country of eastern North Carolina. A former practicing attorney, he is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and the novel Billy Lynn''s Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics'' Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. Billy Lynn was adapted into a feature film directed by three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee, and his work has been translated into over twenty languages. His series of essays published in The Guardian on the 2016 U.S. presidential election was subsequently nominated by the editors of The Guardian for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife of 32 years, Sharon Fountain.

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4.1 out of 54.1 out of 5
1,289 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

fltfoot
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Tedious
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2019
I had high expectations for this novel after reading so many good things about it. However, I was disappointed overall. The writer is undeniably talented. He does a great job with character development, and the novel is funny. It skewers the mindlessness of civilians... See more
I had high expectations for this novel after reading so many good things about it. However, I was disappointed overall. The writer is undeniably talented. He does a great job with character development, and the novel is funny. It skewers the mindlessness of civilians supporting the troops while not having any real understanding of the toll, impact, or effect of the war. Fair enough. I get it and am sympathetic. But that doesn''t make the book an engaging read by itself. It goes on and on, repeating the same ideas, over and over. I suspect the critics got carried away because they loved the message. But the book has little plot and is poorly paced, and what does happen couldn''t possibly take place in the time allotted. I have read a lot of fiction and nonfiction about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as veterans'' homecoming experience. Maybe because I had already read a lot, and from the perspective of veterans, I didn''t feel this novel added anything new. And I found the repetition tedious and thought it detracted from the book. More judicious editing would have made this a much tighter novel that would have had a more powerful impact.
11 people found this helpful
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Audrey Bennett
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Utterly Baffling
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2020
I suspect that some of the rave reviews for this book were written by those who slithered off to Canada back in ''67. At one point the author even makes a comment about fighting so Nixon could have his war...as if Nixon wasn''t the president who got the US *out* of southeast... See more
I suspect that some of the rave reviews for this book were written by those who slithered off to Canada back in ''67. At one point the author even makes a comment about fighting so Nixon could have his war...as if Nixon wasn''t the president who got the US *out* of southeast Asia. If he knew what he was talking about he''d have criticized McNamara (a name my AF dad made sound like an obscenity). And the judge sending Billy to the Army instead of jail? Wouldn''t happen. Today''s Army is an all-volunteer force. They aren''t interested in recruits who''ve earned a trip to the clink.

So, OK, the author lacks military credibility. He could still have written an interesting book about a young recruit confronting the economic disparity between himself and his comrades and the rest of the world. About the disconnect between his experiences and what he sees in the real world. About the callous way the average citizen treats US soldiers (see "Flags of our Fathers")...but he was much more interested in mocking every single resident of the state of Texas, including the successful businessman from Billy''s hometown...who is dressed in (surprise!) VietNam era clothing and whose ogling of Billy''s sister is just about as bad as the unbelievably misogynistic behavior of Billy''s squad members.

Speaking of Billy''s squad members...the author creates a squad (a word he''s misused, incidentally) complete with brain-dead stereotypes which are also not a reflection of today''s Army. This becomes extremely clear when Billy thinks about how great it is to be walking along with his Hispanic friend because of the street cred you earn when you have a Hispanic buddy. Um, what? And then there''s the dialog he forces on the African American member of the squad, which would surely not be used in public during a publicity tour.

It''s utterly baffling. I gave up about a third of the way through.
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Shipshape
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Coming of Age - 21st C
Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2018
A great book — well crafted, well written, and well worth the time. In the press reviews, reviewers have compared this with other war/anti-war books, especially those of WW II. While war is the background setting, this is much more a coming of age book and... See more
A great book — well crafted, well written, and well worth the time.

In the press reviews, reviewers have compared this with other war/anti-war books, especially those of WW II. While war is the background setting, this is much more a coming of age book and comparison with “Catcher in the Rye” are more germane.

Much of the criticism of the “male gaze” and the objectification of women is because it is a 19 year old’s story. We see a young man coming into his own - understanding the deceit and deception of his elders (one reason he is fighting this war) - trying to figure out what an honorable life would be.

The conceit of the “victory tour” wrapped in a single afternoon at a Thanksgiving football game is brilliant. We have juxtapositions between real heroes and celebrity heroes, men who we value only for their brawn and men who we celebrate for their conniving.

As a vet, I found it a great portrayal of a squad — I think we tend to forget how young we send our soldiers to fight for us.
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Gabe
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Especially if you have much recollection of what America was like in the early to mid aughts
Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2018
This is a book definitely worth reading. Especially if you have much recollection of what America was like in the early to mid aughts, it will probably really resonate. It does a really excellent job of capturing and satirizing a sort of base consumerism and hormone laden... See more
This is a book definitely worth reading. Especially if you have much recollection of what America was like in the early to mid aughts, it will probably really resonate. It does a really excellent job of capturing and satirizing a sort of base consumerism and hormone laden political immaturity that seemed really pervasive at that time– the utterly vacuous music of that time (as exemplified, Ben Fountain would presumably argue, by Destiny’s Child), the pubescent hyperbole and surrounding the Iraq war, and the special sanctity, striking even for America, that we seemed to afford to shopping at the time (“...and I encourage you all to go out and shop more.”) still stand out to me. Fountain’s narrative centered around a football halftime show captures the zeitgeist excellently. However, for those that don’t remember that time, this book might feel a little stale and irrelevant. Indeed, it might feel stale and irrelevant, or maybe pleasantly nostalgic, even to those that do remember that time since our present times make the early aughts quaint by comparison.
This book can also be frustrating since it has a tendency to get rather politically heavy; it’s really hard to miss the presence of what appear to be Ben Fountain’s own political convictions, and the book can at times even feel more like a political fulmination in parable form rather than a novel. This will certainly turn off a lot people who find such a heavy political hand to be patronizing and intrusive.
Finally, Some might have some difficulty with the way Fountain renders his women and minority characters as well as the male character’s attitudes towards women. It can be argued that such treatment serves an artistic function, but it can get a little ridiculous at times. Moreover, I found a lot of this book’s plot elements to feel very “stock.” Again, it’s possible that Fountain’s use of such tropes is doing good artistic work in some meta way, but I mostly found it irritating.
In any case, this book is a fast and fairly rewarding read, so it’s definitely worth giving a look. I think there’s a big substantial subset of people with whom this book will really resonate.
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Don J. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Book For Our Time
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2015
I just wrote this to a soldier I know: I am sending you the novel by Ben Fountain, BILLY LYNN''S LONG HALFTIME WALK. A writer like this and a book like this come along only once every forty or fifty years in America. As soon as I finished reading the paperback edition I... See more
I just wrote this to a soldier I know: I am sending you the novel by Ben Fountain, BILLY LYNN''S LONG HALFTIME WALK. A writer like this and a book like this come along only once every forty or fifty years in America. As soon as I finished reading the paperback edition I ordered a hardcover to leave behind for my grandson because there will never be a more truthful portrait of the nation and the time he was born into. It is an astonishing portrait of the hideous lies our nation tells the soldiers we send to do our killing for us in wars where there is nothing for them to win, wars that tear our nation apart. It is also a portrait of our nation''s murderous religion and poisonous politics and shameful greed that inspire the lies. I believe it might also be the greatest portrait of soldiers ever written. Sentence after sentence conveys the truth with such fierce and heartbreaking light, whether he is describing the death of a comrade in battle or the cleavage of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.
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Tracy Alberta
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Some of the writing is beautiful, and the themes of family and the effect ...
Reviewed in the United States on April 17, 2018
Billy Lynn is certainly a conversation-starter. Some topics for consideration: the commercialization of patriotism, the trauma of war, the female orgasm. The Bravo Squad of young soldiers is being celebrated at a football game on Thanksgiving, and we see this game through... See more
Billy Lynn is certainly a conversation-starter. Some topics for consideration: the commercialization of patriotism, the trauma of war, the female orgasm. The Bravo Squad of young soldiers is being celebrated at a football game on Thanksgiving, and we see this game through the eyes of young Billy Lynn, who is a bit disenchanted with the whole idea of war and America. As they are given the VIP treatment at the stadium, we are lead from character to capitalistic character, given a tour of the luxury and excess that is the sports industry and America. Some of the writing is beautiful, and the themes of family and the effect of war on a young man are powerful and well-established. But if the over-the-top stereotyping of everyone and everything is meant to be a satire, it doesn’t quite succeed. The biggest consequence of this is that the female characters are treated in a way that isn’t even quite understandable for a teenage boy—does Billy really need to ogle his sister in a bikini? The characters are stereotypes and as such they fall flat, which is a shame, because the story itself is a creative and important one to tell. The novel feels like a bathtub story—the whole thing takes place in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, save for one chapter of flashback to Billy’s visit home. Even the central event of the book, the battle where the soldiers became heroes, is only described in Billy’s thoughts, not in actual action. There’s a lot of thinking that goes on. There are some really compelling thoughts. There are some really repetitive thoughts. A book that should be exciting is, as a result, a little too slow-moving. I do recommend it, though, if only for the conversation it sparks—I think it’s an important discussion of our society and there’s a lot we can learn about what a novel should and shouldn’t be.
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JM Hopkins
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lovely but flawed from a military point of view
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2017
Ben Fountain is spot on in his portrayal of the military football entertainment complex. It exists and the Department of Defense (DOD) pays upwards of 6-million dollars per National Football League (NFL) game to have its fighting forces displayed therein as marketing for a... See more
Ben Fountain is spot on in his portrayal of the military football entertainment complex. It exists and the Department of Defense (DOD) pays upwards of 6-million dollars per National Football League (NFL) game to have its fighting forces displayed therein as marketing for a crop of new recruits. The setup of Bravo Company, the "heroes" of a battle at a canal in Iraq, is spot on for the NFL/DOD marketeers. Fountain is also spot on in his portrayal of the classes which divide the United States (the business ownership class and the working class/fighting class of which PVT Billy Lynn is a part). The interludes regarding his working class/disabled family are classic. There are so many phony patriots in this book that I laughed out loud. Fountain goes out of his way to tie Iraq to 9/11 which was a common refrain at the time. I have one critique: I had a hard time determining what point of view the novel was told from because the author often broke into vocabulary that no 18-year old private could fathom having and introduced critiques (while accurate) that somewhat pulled the reader out of the story. The challenge would be to make Billy Lynn say these critiques in his somewhat limited Everyman vocabulary. The point of view is a somewhat omniscient third person that dives more often than not into Billy Lynn''s stream of consciousness. I could have dealt with this and not had the overly Ph.D. level critiques of contemporary American society intruding as much. Also, as former US Army soldier for ten years, I have a critique of the author''s knowledge of military structures in this novel. I do not understand why a Major, the first staff officer in the chain of command, would be accompanying this group of young men. You would think that their Platoon Sergeant, or Platoon Leader (a Lieutenant) would be accompanying them. It would be understandable if that was their company commander (a Captain) who was recently promoted to Staff Officer (Operations Officer, XO of a Battalion, etc). That is a minor critique, but to a former U.S. Army soldier, it was quite glaring to me.
6 people found this helpful
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Mark O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is America
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2019
Had Frederick Exley, Hunter S. Thompson, and Harry Crews met at a Cowboys game at Texas Stadium, this is the book they’d have decided to write, full as it is with mournful celebrations of the American condition, a la Exley; with ruthless insight into the human condition, a... See more
Had Frederick Exley, Hunter S. Thompson, and Harry Crews met at a Cowboys game at Texas Stadium, this is the book they’d have decided to write, full as it is with mournful celebrations of the American condition, a la Exley; with ruthless insight into the human condition, a la Thompson; and unwavering reverence for its characters, a la Crews. Through it all, Ben Fountain has masterfully woven the existential ambiguity of certainty.

This book rocked me. And I can’t recommend it more highly.
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Top reviews from other countries

CultureDrinker
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Cracker of a read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 8, 2017
Stoked by the prospect of watching a new Ang Lee adaptation just days away and thanks to its curiously scored and edited trailer, hinting at some Narrative within narratives, I snapped up this remarkable source book, an imagined memoir-of-sorts by Ben Fountain-an author I...See more
Stoked by the prospect of watching a new Ang Lee adaptation just days away and thanks to its curiously scored and edited trailer, hinting at some Narrative within narratives, I snapped up this remarkable source book, an imagined memoir-of-sorts by Ben Fountain-an author I hadn''t known about, but what a talent! Good luck to Mr Lee in bringing this cracker of a satire with all its layers of orgiastic, trenchant verbiage to the screen. Playing out over a single day of a 19 year old just-returned war hero who is being honored along with his squad for a successful shock-and-awe mission in Iraq; as our lone hero drags his heels through the pomp and ceremony of the erected theatre of a Cowboys'' Thanksgiving home game complete with a Destiny''s Child performance, we the readers get to inhabit the amphitheatre of the "old soul" within him. His inner monologue, a rigorous and continuous commentary on the misguided state-sponsored war he is a part of and the industrial fantasy-making culture machine that is erected around it, is often interrupted by the grotesquerie that invades his senses: from the pyrotechnics of the circus erected to the overwhelming pangs of lust for a cheerleader he''s fallen for to his doting sister''s persuasive pleads to withdraw from the military service to the flashbacks of the explosive incident-the reason for his unasked-for celebrity status-where he lost his best mate to his interactions with overfed, over-entertained squealing zombie-humans and punch-drunk-with-their-own self-importance corporate lizards. There is also a continuous thread of his squad''s story being juiced for a Hollywood adaptation that never quite gets off the ground, which brings to fore the book''s and the author''s concern for the uninvolved millions engaged in this documented, filmed and televised hyper-reality of war, organised sport and propaganda everyday: it has become the new drug that provides a welcome relief from the chaotic, unrewarding and intricate personal realities. It is interesting that this very well articulated, rip-through-every-artifice stance is encased in one giant thought experiment by this talented creator of fiction. He pulls off this young contemplative wartime hero with absolute triumph-with all of Billy''s bile spread evenly between the "telling"-his fabulous expositions fashioned into soliloquies-to-self and "showing"- four incidents: a football game, a boy-leaving-home drama, a film deal and a minor love affair that unfold organically with a cast of full-blooded beings I could place and hear. With a terrific sense of time, place and concern, in one long halftime, Fountain manages to give us a hero for the noughties generation, a generation that finds willingly and unwillingly gorging on increasing post-truth scoops of farcical politics, entertainment-on-tap, derivative culture products and virtual realities.
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verdigristwist
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brave, thoughtful, and that goes for the author too...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015
Billy is a hero. Like Captain America he has (temporarily) served his time and is now selling war bonds – or at least pushing the modern equivalent of flying the flag – but who for exactly? Not the people wining and dining him and the rest of the squad – they are out for...See more
Billy is a hero. Like Captain America he has (temporarily) served his time and is now selling war bonds – or at least pushing the modern equivalent of flying the flag – but who for exactly? Not the people wining and dining him and the rest of the squad – they are out for all they can get at the soldiers’ expense. And what about the man who is trying to sell their story of fight and survival to tinsel town – where do his loyalties lie (if not, ultimately, to himself). And just what is this America that Billy is fighting for? Waiting for his half-time appearance at an American Football stadium while stuck in a schedule beyond his control, meeting people whose conflicting opinions and lack of any real-life knowledge of what he’s been through, Billy takes a distant view, the words of those that want to touch him, utilise him, or use him as a sounding board becoming more and more irrelevant as time creeps nearer to his next tour of duty. Beautifully written, with non-standard page layouts and a steady paced built towards a final more honest than most of the secondary characters in this story, this book is bound to draw comparisons with Catch 22. It has that same claustrophobic atmosphere, the same feeling of inert helplessness as, like an insect stuck in crystallising amber, Billy is drawn towards a fate he can viscerally feel if not escape. This must be the most surprising book I’ve read in half a year. That it was written on this topic, that it expresses so well the dichotomy of Billy’s world and those that want a second hand touch of glamour from it, and that the author had the bravery to express Billy’s experiences in the very lay-out of the written page is to be applauded as well as appreciated. Shorn of sentimentality, it’s powerful stuff.
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Phil X
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A very long halftime
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2014
I found this book very hard to get into, it gave me little or no motivation to keep going. The story is of a group of GI’s who survive a firefight in the 2nd Iraq War and are brought home on a PR exercise. The whole story takes place during the super bowl match over a...See more
I found this book very hard to get into, it gave me little or no motivation to keep going. The story is of a group of GI’s who survive a firefight in the 2nd Iraq War and are brought home on a PR exercise. The whole story takes place during the super bowl match over a thanksgiving weekend. In many ways this is just a retelling of Clint Eastwood’s Sands of Iwo Jima. The soldiers look back at the nation they have left and reflect on the differences between where they have been and where they were. In essence the story does not progress any further than that. There exists something of a fathers to son relationship between the sergeant and one of the dead squad members to our protagonist Billy. This is well played out, as well as the sibling relationship between Billy and his elder sister Kathryn. I found the repetitive references to jerking off a bit unnecessary Huge swathes of the book describe the American football game and the half time events, as well as philosophical waffle. I found myself almost scanning the pages, at times losing myself and having to back track. No surprises at the end either. This is not a bad book, it is just that it does nothing that is new for me and the writing did not engage.
7 people found this helpful
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housemartin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An exceptionally good read - quite the most enjoyable book I''ve read ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2015
An exceptionally good read - quite the most enjoyable book I''ve read for several months. That said, it seems only sensible to point out that this is a Marmite book. If you''re unfamiliar with or irritated by American colloquialisms, if you dislike bad language and swearing,...See more
An exceptionally good read - quite the most enjoyable book I''ve read for several months. That said, it seems only sensible to point out that this is a Marmite book. If you''re unfamiliar with or irritated by American colloquialisms, if you dislike bad language and swearing, if you think the war in Iraq was a good thing and if you dislike or know nothing at all about American football, this book may not be for you. However, the language and swearing isn''t that bad and it''s never gratuitous. And it''s possible you could enjoy the book without knowing anything about American football and its traditions. On the other hand, if you know and like America, if you have contempt for George W Bush and the political thugs who embroiled the US in an unwinnable war for highly dubious reasons, if you enjoy watching the Super Bowl and if you enjoyed Tom Wolfe''s "A Man in Full", there''s every chance you will love Ben Fountain''s book about Billy Lynn and Bravo squad as much as I did. This is a satire and it''s clever and very funny. Seldom laugh-out-loud funny, but you''ll find yourself grinning most of the time. The dialogue is as good as any I''ve encountered in a book. Never a false note, crystal clear and true. And it''s the dialogue that produces most of the humour. Sometimes satire becomes tedious, when the author starts preaching or laying it on too thick. In this book, the satire is subtle and gentle and Fountain never (in my opinion) loses his sense of proportion. At times the humour and style reminded me of Tom Wolfe, but this is every bit as good as his stuff and one third of the length. It''s beautifully written, too. If you decide to read it, I hope you get as much fun and pleasure from it as I did.
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P. Meally
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Catch 22 of our generation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 23, 2017
This is a great book, a book that challenges the comfortable assumptions about war and those who fight it. It''s a million miles removed from the patriotic Rambo books but still portrays a group of heroes. Their struggle to relate to the people they are protecting...See more
This is a great book, a book that challenges the comfortable assumptions about war and those who fight it. It''s a million miles removed from the patriotic Rambo books but still portrays a group of heroes. Their struggle to relate to the people they are protecting illustrates the disconnect between the regular soldier and those who claim to support them. The prose is sharp, the pace is brisk and I didn''t want the story to end.
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