Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Quotes

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Quotes (showing 1-30 of 60)
“Somewhere along the way America became a giant mall with a country attached.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“If you could figure out how to live with family then you'd gone a long way toward finding your peace.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Okay, so maybe they aren't the greatest generation by anyone's standard, but they are surely the best of the bottom third percentile of their own somewhat muddled and suspect generation.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Without ever exactly putting his mind to it, he's come to believe that loss is the standard trajectory. Something new appears in the world-a baby, say, or a car or a house, or an individual shows some special talent-with luck and huge expenditures of soul and effort you might keep the project stoked for a while, but eventually, ultimately, its going down. This is a truth so brutally self-evident that he can't fathom why it's not more widely percieved, hence his contempt for the usual public shock and outrage when a particular situation goes to hell. The war is fucked? Well, duh. Nine-eleven? Slow train coming. They hate our freedoms? Yo, they hate our actual guts! Billy suspects his fellow Americans secretly know better, but something in the land is stuck on teenage drama, on extravagant theatrics of ravaged innocence and soothing mud wallows of self-justifying pity.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“All the fakeness just rolls right off them, maybe because the nonstop sales job of American life has instilled in them exceptionally high thresholds for sham, puff, spin, bullshit, and outright lies, in other words for advertising in all its forms.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“It is sort of weird being honored for the worst day of your life.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“There was no such thing as perfection in this world, only moments of such extreme transparency that you forgot yourself, a holy mercy if there ever was one.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“No matter their age or station in life, Billy can't help but regard his fellow Americans as children. They are bold and proud and certain in the way of clever children blessed with too much self-esteem, and no amount of lecturing will enlighten them as to the state of pure sin toward which war inclines. He pities them, scorns them, loves them, hates them, these children. These boys and girls. These toddlers, these infants. Americans are children who must go somewhere else to grow up, and sometimes die.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“You'd think family would be the one sure thing in life, the gimme? Points you got just for being born? So much thick, meaty stuff bound you to these people, so many interlocking spirals of history, genetics, common cause, and struggle that it should be the most basic of all drives, that you would strive to protect and love one another, yet this bond that should be the big no-brainer was in fact the hardest thing.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Billy tries to imagine the vast systems that support these athletes. They are among the best-cared for creatures in the history of the planet, beneficiaries of the best nutrition, the latest technologies, the finest medical care, they live at the very pinnacle of American innovation and abundance, which inspires an extraordinary thought - send them to fight the war! Send them just as they are this moment, well rested, suited up, psyched for brutal combat, send the entire NFL! Attack with all our bears and raiders, our ferocious redskins, our jets, eagles, falcons, chiefs, patriots, cowboys - how could a bunch of skinny hajjis in man-skits and sandals stand a chance against these all-Americans? Resistance is futile, oh Arab foes. Surrender now and save yourself a world of hurt, for our mighty football players cannot be stopped, they are so huge, so strong, so fearsomely ripped that mere bombs and bullets bounce off their bones of steel. Submit, lest our awesome NFL show you straight to the flaming gates of hell!”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Everybody supports the troops," Dime woofs, "support the troops, support the troops, hell yeah we're so fucking PROUD of our troops, but when it comes to actual money? Like somebody might have to come out of pocket for the troops? Then all the sudden we're on everybody's tight-ass budget. Talk is cheap, I got that, but gimme a break. Talk is cheap but money screams, this is our country, guys. And I fear for it. I think we should all fear for it.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Even harder was describing his sense that Shroom’s death might have ruined him for anything else, because when he died? when I felt his soul pass through me? I loved him so much right then, I don’t think I can ever have that kind of love for anybody again. So what was the point of getting married, having kids, raising a family if you knew you couldn’t give them your very best love?”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
tags: death, love, war
“Not that she means anything by it, he knows. This is simply her lifelong habit of moderation at work, her need to tamp everything down to the routine, the modest, the tepid everyday. He understands the whole concept of boundaries, but there’s a point where this mania for normalizing turns toxic.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Dread of returning to Iraq equals the direst poverty, and that's how he feels right now, poor, like a shabby homeless kid suddenly thrust into the company of millionaires. Mortal fear is the ghetto of the human soul, to be free of it something like the psychic equivalent of inheriting a hundred million dollars. This is what he truly envies of these people, the luxury of terror as a talking point, and at this moment he feels so sorry for himself that he could break right down and cry.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
tags: fear, war
“How does anyone ever know anything—the past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost, the present a freeway thunder run at 90 mph, which makes the future the ultimate black hole of futile speculation.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“He'd say "I love you" to every man in the squad before rolling out, say it straight, with no joking or smart-ass lilt and no warbly Christian smarm in it either, just that brisk declaration like he was tightening the seat belts around everyone's soul.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
tags: love, war
“At some point Billy realized he was expecting the president to act, well, embarrassed? Ashamed? For how fucked up everything obviously was. But the commander in chief seemed well pleased with the state of things.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Let me just say, we call Iraq the abnormal normal, 'cause over there the weirdest stuff is just everyday life.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
tags: iraq
“But then self-doubt has always been there for Billy, self-doubt and its cousin the berating voice, these faithful companions have always been on call to help him through the critical junctures of his life.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Where else but America could football flourish, America with its millions of fertile acres of corn, soy, and wheat, its lakes of dairy, its year-round gushers of fruits and vegetables, and such meats, that extraordinary pipline of beef, poultry, seafood, and pork, feedlot gorged, vitamin enriched, and hypodermically immunized, humming factories of high-velocity protein production, all of which culminate after several generations of epic nutrition in this strain of industrial-sized humans? Only America could produce such giants.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“What he'd like to say is that he's lived it, if not the entire breadth and depth of the Christian faith then certainly the central thrust of it. The mystery, the awe, that huge sadness and grief. Oh my people.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“...he wonders by what process virtually any discussion about the war seems to profane these ultimate matters of life and death. As if to talk of such things properly we need a mode of speech near the equal of prayer, otherwise just shut, shut your yap and sit on it, silence being truer to the experience than the star-spangled spasm, the bittersweet sob, the redeeming hug, or whatever this fucking closure is that everybody's always talking about. They want it to be easy and it's just not going to be.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“He decides he wants both more or less. He’d like to hang with Beyonce in a nice way, get to know her by doing small pleasant things together like playing board games and going out for ice cream, or how about this, a three-week trial run in some tropical paradise where they can hang together in that nice way and possibly fall in love, and meanwhile fuck each other’s brains out in their spare time. He wants both, he wants the entire body-soul connect because anything less is just demeaning.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“[Norm said,] 'To all those who argue this war is a mistake, I'd like to point out that we've removed from power one of history's most ruthless and belligerent tyrants. A man who cold-bloodedly murdered thousands of his own people. Who built palaces for his personal pleasure while schools decayed and his country's health care system collapsed. Who maintained one of the world's most expensive armies while he allowed his nation's infrastructure to crumble. Who channeled resources to his cronies and political allies, allowing them to siphon off much of the country's wealth for their own personal gain.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“What to call it - the spark of God? Survival instinct? The souped-up computer of an apex brain evolved from eons in the R&D of natural selection? You could practically see the neurons firing in the kid’s skull. His body was all spring and torque, a bundle of fast-twitch muscles that exuded faint floral whiffs of ripe pear. So much perfection in such a compact little person - Billy had to tackle him from time to time, wrestle him squealing to the ground just to get that little rascal in his hands, just your basic adorable thirty-month-old with big blue eyes clear as chlorine pools and Huggies poking out of his stretchy-waist jeans. So is this what they mean by the sanctity of life? A soft groan escaped Billy when he thought about that, the war revealed in this fresh and gruesome light. Oh. Ugh. Divine spark, image of God, suffer the little children and all that - there’s real power when words attach to actual things. Made him want to sit right down and weep, as powerful as that. He got it, yes he did, and when he came home for good he’d have to meditate on this, but for now it was best to compartmentalize, as they said, or even better not to mentalize at all.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Without ever exactly putting his mind to it, he's come to believe that loss is standard trajectory. Something new appears in the world—a baby, say, or a car or a house, or an individual shows some special talent—with luck and huge expenditures of soul and effort you might keep the project stoked for a while, but eventually, ultimately, it's going down. This is a truth so brutally self-evident that he can't fathom why it's not more widely perceived, hence his contempt for the usual public shock and outrage when a particular situation goes to hell.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“So perhaps, it occurs to Billy, this is the whole point of civilization, the eating of beautiful meals and the taking of decorous dumps, in which case he is for it, having had a bellyful of the other way.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“This is a truth so brutally self-evident that he can't fathom why it's not more widely perceived, hence his contempt for the usual public shock and outrage when a particular situation goes to hell”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“If ever there was a prime-time trigger for PTSD you couldn't do much better than this, but lucky for Norm, the crowd, America, the forty-million-plus TV viewing audience, Bravos can deal, oh yes! Pupils dilated, pulse and blood pressure through the roof, limbs trembling with stress-reflex cortisol rush, but it's cool, it's good, their shit's down tight, no Vietnam-vet crackups for Bravo squad! You can march these boys straight into sound-and-light show hell and Bravos can deal, but damn, isn't it rude to put them through it.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
tags: ptsd, war
“Coffee? Hell yes, coffee! Caffeine being one of the essential drugs.”
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

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