Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
By Ben Fountain
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780060885595, May 2012, 320pp.)
The Short of It:
A simple, sweet story about a young man’s brief return from the war in Iraq.
The Rest of It:
Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn returns home on Thanksgiving after a wicked firefight over in Iraq and because it was televised, he and the other members of Bravo Company suddenly find themselves in the spotlight. So much so, that the rights to their story have been sold and a Hollywood deal is in the works.
This was a really interesting read. It’s so simple and subtle and so much of it takes place during a Dallas Cowboy’s football game, that you almost want to dismiss it for being too simple. But I really enjoyed this book for a lot of different reasons. One, it totally captured the feelings of a young man at the age of nineteen. Billy has this wide-eyed innocence that makes him extremely likable. As the minutes tick on, we are reminded time and time again that his time home is brief, that he will be returning to war and that anything is possible. The fragile nature of his existence is palpable and I thought about his situation long after finishing the book.
The other thing that I really liked was how well the author incorporated the other characters into the story. The other men each have their own distinct personalities and since time with them is so brief, this only added to the feeling that life is slipping away for them. Fountain even managed to introduce a love interest for Billy and somehow, it was plausible and I totally bought it.
This is a simple story, told well. Fountain’s ability to hold you in the moment is what made this one a winner for me. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and I can see why.
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