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

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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's review
Jun 04, 2012

it was ok

Wow. Five stars? Really? For this? I'm not trying to be a dick. I'm not trying to patronize. I don't mean, even, to be overly critical. It's just that there is no way that this book is a five star book. Think about it, people who have read it. Do you really mean to say that this book deserves THE BEST SCORE POSSIBLE? Are you willing to say that yes, this book deserves to be placed among the top eschelons of eternity? I mean, I'm just asking. I'm not saying that it's not a five star idea or that there aren't five star sentences or five star phrases or descriptions or whatever inside. There probably are. But also? That's part of the problem. Bunch of soldier-heroes coming back from Iraq, gonna be showcased and VIP'd at the Thanksgiving Cowboys game, alongside Destiny's Child... it's a seductive idea. And granted, if I would've thought of it, I might've tried to make it work, might've let myself be seduced. But the truth is that, in the end, this book is at the mercy of its great idea. Or, maybe even more accurately, the ideas are so big here that no part of the book is ever able to transcend them. Dallas Cowboys. Heroes from Iraq. Thanksgiving. Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Texas Stadium. Texas. Dead fellow soldier. Owner based on Jerry Jones. It's like the author had a decent idea and wanted to say something about America and terrorism and the oughts and football and sexism, etc., but the fact is that anything you could say about any of that stuff is so obvious, so overdone, so already laden with over-the-top symbolism, that the only thing you can do while reading it--other than tip your hat to a good many propulsive and show-offy sentences--is nod your head and/or roll your eyes.

I wondered if I was being too harsh, if maybe I should've given this book more of a chance. Then I saw it at Kroger, my local grocery store, and I realized that yes, this was not a book for the ages, but a book for right now, and that it, like the store's produce, will wither and disappear. Maybe someone will be able to make a meal of it. As for me, it's already expired.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Kirkpatrick 5 stars for review- hilarious!

message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Coxon I'm not sure that book would have to be 'the best book possible' to get 5/5, would it? Don't know where you got this definition from. Statistically it would presumably just have to be in the top 20% of books published? Unless you're using the Rolling Stone rating system, obviously, in which nothing ever gets 5/5...

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I am with you. This book was awful.

Zach Definition of five stars, according to the site, is "amazing." Not "top eschelons (sic) of eternity."

Bruce Stern First, I enjoyed your comments, despite my reluctance to support one reviewer commenting about the opinions of other reviewers (which I've done, too).
'Huckleberry Finn,' THE Great American Novel' in the minds of some, could be said to be about a particular time, too.
I enjoyed Ben Fountain's story a great deal. While it takes place during a particular time I believe it says lots about America and Americans universally.
I give the book 4 out of 5 stars because it doesn't rank with the books I perceive as being the best written of what I've read, which excludes almost all of the so-called classics or the Western canon or the greatest American novels. I take the 'star' ratings with a grain of salt, whether they're chosen by reviewers in Good Reads, Amazon, or wherever.
Jeremy, one of the commenters about your review, got it wrong with his comment that you believe the book is awful. Unless I misread your review.
Thanks for your review.

message 6: by Blythe (new) - added it

Blythe You haven't even read it? You are totally a dick.

Niki I agree. I'm abandoning the effort. If a book doesn't grab me by 1/3 then I'm out.

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