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

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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's review
Jul 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: more-stuff-like-this-please
Read in June, 2012

I can't say that I've ever read a Texas stream of consciousness novel before. It's a bit like taking Leopold Bloom and transplanting him to Dallas. Billy Lynn isn't like Bloom, though; he isn't a Dublin do-nothing who gets a buzz out of seeing a girl's ankles. Instead, he's an Iraq War hero on a p.r. tour for the Army and the day in question isn't June 16 (I'm three days late with this review). It's Thanksgiving Day at a Dallas Cowboys football game and Lynn gets a rise out of the ample flesh of some Cowboys cheerleaders.

This novel takes a good 100 pages to get going, but once it hits its stride it's very funny. Mr. Fountain knows his way around a sentence. Billy Lynn is also far more incisive and thoughtful than Leopold Bloom, and while that awareness allows the novel to examine American society and culture in some detail, it's a bit of a leap. Billy is nineteen. How insightful can a nineteen year old be anyway?

Ben Fountain does a wonderful job chronicling the interplay between Billy and his troopmates as they do their best to put a good face on a questionable war (Aren't all wars questionable?) while at the same time trying to secure a movie deal for their story of bravery. If you're a conservative war hawk or a Dallas Cowboys fan, I suggest that you stay away from this book. It will be too cynical for you. But if you like careful, comic writing, it's worth a read even though like probably all stream of consciousness novels (including Ulysses), it's a little long winded.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Jill Stuart, have you read NEXT? That's another Texas stream-of-consciousness book. Great review, btw!

Stuart I have a bias against Texas, Dallas in particular. If I go stream of consciousness again, I think I need to pick another state. Broaden my horizons. Maybe, I dunno, Rhode Island?

Jill Hahaha! You mean, you don't like the state that produced "W" and Santorum? Not exactly Leopold Bloom types, are they?

message 4: by Stuart (last edited Jun 20, 2012 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Stuart Texas and me don't get along. The list of bizarre things that have happened to me there is long. I think it was Woody Guthrie who said, "Marry a Texas girl. No matter what happens she's seen worse."

Nancy You made me chuckle. I started to lead into my review with your thought, " If you're a conservative war hawk or a Dallas Cowboys fan, I suggest that you stay away from this book. It will be too cynical for you." When I remembered how few of those people read literature, I went another way.

Stuart Thanks. It's probably true that conservative war hawks don't read many novels. But maybe there's a Dallas Cowboys fan or two in the stands with a book to read during those persistent and long TV timeouts.

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