Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
This topic is about Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Past Reads > Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, 2) XXL through to End

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Janine | 100 comments Mod
Discussion from XXL through to end.

Anna Ellis | 1 comments I hate reading on the Kindle, but I live in Greece, and finding books in English is difficult. So I bought the e-book version of this book, and I wanted to let everyone know, if you are interested, you can buy it on Amazon right now for $1.99. Not bad... Looking forward to diving in to it tonight!

Mary (maryingilbert) | 69 comments Finished the book. Enjoyed it. Would rate it as 4-stars.

Mary (maryingilbert) | 69 comments I've read some recent reviews that compared this book to Catch-22. Other than both books having a theme of the futility of war, I don't see much similarity between the two novels. I found Catch-22 a difficult read (over-the-top sarcasm, a farce, slapstick humor). This novel was much more readable.

Irene | 545 comments It took me a while to get a library copy, but I have now finished it. I am a bit ambivlent about the book. I thought the author captured the anxt of the soldier's experience: the survival guilt, the stress of living long term in mortal danger, the existential questions that hover just below the surface, and at the same time, the pride in the adulation, the bond between others in a platoon, the instinctual passionate response and the doubt over the purpose of the violent acts, etc. But, I found the narrator's voice inconsistant. Although Billy is referred to in the third person, the narrator is only telling his story at an intimate distance. But, one moment this narrator is using the language of a street thug and the next the vocabulary and images of the resident of some ivory tower. I also found the abundance of creative similes distracting, as if the author was drawing too much attention to his creativity. The parallels between war and football did not fully work for me. Either I was supposed to draw some insights that I missed because it was not explicitly stated, or it was simply the same old ideas that have been drawn by many others for decades.

So, what did others like or dislike about this book?

Irene | 545 comments So what did people think of Billy's dilemma and final decission? His sister wants him to leave the war. She points out that he is already a hero who has done more than his share for his country. He has serious doubts about this war, both the why and the what of this conflict. She points out that his family could not handle his death and he has an obligation to them also. But, he feels the pull of his commitment to the other guys in his platoon and the word he gave to fight when he signed up. Knowing what he knows, having experienced what he has experienced (not only on the battle field, but also of the ambivluence of the civilians back home) what do you think of his choice at the end?

message 7: by NCW (new) - rated it 4 stars

NCW | 24 comments I finished this last night. I read it in two stretches over two days. The prose just felt like it moved quickly -- in a good way. I also enjoyed the book. I noticed the inconsistencies in perspective, some of it feeling authentic for a 19 year old soldier and other obviously feeling like it came from a 50 year old author with a lot more perspective on American politics, wealth, class, and consumerism. On the other hand, the book would have been either boring or tedious if it had stayed in only one of the two perspectives the entire time. So it didn't bother me too much.
I can kind of see the similarities to Catch-22, but I felt more like the book read like something from David Foster Wallace if DFW wrote much, much more accessibly. It also felt a little like reading Vernon God Little.
I liked the way the book treated the perspective on war between those who actually fight and those who claim to 'support the troops' in some kind of vague way. Several times Billy points out that the entire Victory Tour is celebrating the worst day of his life and he just can't get his head around that except for through soldierly discipline. I liked this line even if it's a little heavy handed: "Dread of returning to Iraq equals the direst poverty, 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, so 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" (114).

Janine | 100 comments Mod
I struggled a little in getting to the end of this book. But I made it. Some parts really worked for me and drew me in, but in other parts I found myself putting it down and heading off to do something else... like make a cup of tea. At times I didn't really feel a need to know what happened.

I wondered if the point Darcy made about the present tense could have been an issue. It didn't bother me while I read it, but possibly subconsciously it irritated me? Or maybe it was the over description of some of the events at the game - I really struggled through the halftime performance...

But I liked Billy as a character, and this got me to the end!

I completely agree there were inconsistencies in the narrative. I didn't mind it, but it seemed very evident, which was a bit surprising.

The conundrum Billy faced - the pressure from his sister/family to stay and the pressure from society to return - was aspect of the book I found interesting. I can appreciate that Billy felt he had no choice. (view spoiler)

I had some further thoughts about the football/war analogy and also about the title. I may come back to those...

Irene | 545 comments Did you think this deserved its prize and praise?

Janine | 100 comments Mod
Hmmm... Very good question, Irene. Many people have really enjoyed the book. And I didn't dislike it. Perhaps it's a question of personal taste? The book had some great parts, and then some parts drifted off for me. While I'm far from an expert (esp. not being American) I guess it tackles the issues that make for great American novels - subject matter of war and heroism ticks a box, obsession with celebrity and money ticks another, etc.

I just didn't think it was very subtle... But maybe that was fully intended and I've missed something. And, as I mentioned earlier, I was surprised by some of the inconsistencies in the narration.

I didn't realise it's being made into a film and just discovered this. I think it could be very good as a film and with Ang Lee directing, I'll be interested to see how it's interpreted:

Irene | 545 comments Idid not hear that it was being made into a film either. Is it supposed to be released this year?

Janine | 100 comments Mod
It's early days, I think and I'm not sure when it's due to be released. I did read that production is planned to start in a month or so...

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