Jaron's Reviews > Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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's review
Sep 05, 12

Read from August 24 to September 04, 2012

This book's got it all: love, war and football. Isn't that all a book needs in order to be a "great American novel?"

It's got some pretty great writing, too, some very lovely and philosophical passages that take what could be a bit of a tired theme (How we reconcile and justify our consumer society against the greater backdrop of the Iraq war) and elevate it to something more -- something great.

The main story takes place all during one day, although plenty of flashbacks fill in the gaps and help create a narrative out of a premise that at first seemed, to me, to be better suited to a short story format. In some ways, this novel feels like a long short story, a day in the life of Billy Lynn. He's a famous (due to some gritty Fox News footage) Iraq war hero who is being used by the Bush administration as a pawn to shore up support for the war. The day of the story, he and his squad are to be honored during halftime of a Dallas Cowboys game. The dark humor and original writing style were highlights for me, and the only real misstep, in my opinion, was a too-long flashback illustrating Lynn's dysfunctional family life.

On a side note, if you are interested in reading this book, I don't recommend reading the Goodreads description, as it gives far too much away (in my opinion).


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