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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 325 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Review

This book will be the Catch-22 of the Iraq War. Instead of skewering the military, however, it skewers the society responsible for sending it to war, namely us. This funny, yet totally sobering, dissection of the American way of watching war will have you squirming at the same time you are laughing out loud; Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become - Karl Marlantes

Product Details

  • File Size: 1287 KB
  • Print Length: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2012
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00655KLOY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,646 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ben Fountain 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 reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life. He and his family live in Dallas, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

597 of 627 people found the following review helpful By Woodsy Wilds on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a seventy year old woman who doesn't own a TV and lives in Maine, it's unlikely that a book about soldiers, football, and high rollers looking for a movie deal set in Texas would compel me to write my first review, but this book did. It's a piece of Americana that tells us about ourselves in the same way that say To Kill a Mockingbird or Death of a Salesman reveals pieces of the puzzle that is America. I somehow feel better for having read this book which is why, I guess, some of us read in the first place.
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237 of 250 people found the following review helpful By NSW TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first heard about this book (and Karl Marlantes' blurb), I assumed it was written by a veteran - it isn't, and that's really amazing, because this is a pitch-perfect look into a soldier's experiences.

I say that as a veteran (of Desert Storm) and an embedded journalist in Iraq in 2007-09, so I have some first-hand knowledge with what he describes. To me, the voices and actions of the characters are dead-on accurate.

It's got some flaws, which I'll get to first so I can finish strong. In my mind, the flaws are because he's trying so hard at writing something big and memorable, and it gets away from him at times.

The conclusion veers into melodrama. Up until the last 40 pages or so, I could pretty much buy the events as possible real-life occurrences. But the end features a couple moments where I couldn't quite suspend disbelief.

While the civilians he describes behave realistically, there's times when it feels very much like the author's "meta rant" against the American mindset - he sets up some characters as one-dimensional straw men so he can show his disdain. I agree with what he's presenting, but it doesn't always feel like a story - more like he's trying to inject a point into the fictional narrative. Which is fine, but not if it's obvious like it sometime is.

Most of the time, the story is told in present-day perspective with some flashbacks. Very occasionally, he switches into describing the future, and that's awkward. For me, I would have liked no 'future look' at all.

So, okay, those things threw me off.

Everything else is very strong. Marlantes called it a "Catch 22" of the Iraq War - but that's not accurate, because to me it's not really a satire.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By David J. Lawrence on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Plenty have summed up the plot of this book; if you've arrived at the Amazon page and are reading reviews, it's safe to say you know at least the rough outlines of the story. So I'll forego that....

A colleague of mine likes telling this story: his wife finally asks him what he's reading after he repeatedly laughs out loud. He replies to her, "A war novel." There's a bitterness that underlies it all, to be sure (see my back-and-forth with one of the one-star curmudgeons for more on that), but that bitterness is frequently offset by Fountain's hip, hilarious, dead on observations and wonderfully fresh cache of similes. Here are just a (very) few examples:

"She performed with a multitasky air of distractedness, like she was watering plants while talking on the phone..."

"She was still capable of sad, skewed smiles from time to time, forcing the cheer like Christmas lights in the poor part of town..."

"His complexion is the ruddled, well-scrubbed pink of an old ketchup stain..."

"Billy makes a few of the cheerleaders for strippers--they have the tough slizzard look of the club pro--but most of them could be college girls with their fresh good looks, their pert noses and smooth necks, their scrubbed, unsullied air of wholesome voluptuousness..."

"They're just so pretty and genuinely nice, and toned, good God, their bodies firm as steel belted radials...."

"Their wonderful breasts keep noodging up against his arms, setting off sensory bells and whistles like a run of bonus points in a video game..."

"Back in the locker room the players have almost finished suiting up. The air is a pungent casserole of plastics, b.o.
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118 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Steven C. Hull on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every war in the twentieth century has given us quality literature, some great, some not. "All Quiet on the Western Front, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Slaughterhouse Five, Catch 22, The Things They Carried" were great. "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is not. But like all literature, "Billy Lynn" holds up a mirror to America and the image is chilling.

Billy Lynn and his fellow grunts in Bravo Team return to the states for a hero's welcome, only to be confronted by an America completely unfazed, totally uninvolved in the war. Like "All Quiet on the Western Front," "Billy Lynn" shows the puzzlement of troops who return from deadly battle only to see a complete disconnection in civilian society. America appreciates Bravo's efforts, politely expresses their support for the troops, but don't interrupt America's quest for materialism and pursuit of our right to happiness.

Ben Fountain draws an excellent portrait of America's ambivalence towards the Iraqi War, something that we've never seen before. In all other wars (except for the brief Desert Storm), our troops were primarily drafted, pulled reluctantly into harm's way. Families everywhere had someone or knew someone in the service. Casualties and deaths reverberated through communities reminding everyone that it could have been their son or nephew. It was this reverberation, the cry of mothers, which ended the Viet Nam War. Young men had no control over their lives. Authors explored the ancient Greek concept of determinism: how much of our lives are determined by things we cannot control, such as chance and the environment in which we live.
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