Andrea Mullarkey's Reviews > Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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's review
Oct 23, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012

Billy Lynn and his squad were involved in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, a dramatic enough setup for a novel. Because there was an imbedded journalist with them, the Bravo squad is treated to a “victory tour” of the United States over the following Thanksgiving. Billy’s first-person narrative of this tour makes up this devastating novel. Seen through the eyes of a soldier on leave (the Bravos are headed back to Iraq after their half-time performance at the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving day) this is not really a story of war or corporations or wealth. Of course Billy sees more than his share of senseless violence and even more senseless consumption. But the part that felt most true to me was the disconnect between the American public’s fawning over televised “war heroes” and the experiences of these actual young men. The gulf between flag-waving patriots and gun-carrying patriots was enormous and expertly delineated by Fountain. Add in clever use of language and words (word clouds populated with terms like terrRist and nina leven are scattered through the book) and the overall effect was jarring and engrossing at the same time. Between the topic and the writing I am not surprised it was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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