Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (is my Boyfriend)Posted: October 16, 2012
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: This is a long overdue boyfriend post- I read this book back in July! I talked about it a liiiiittle bit then, in a post I wrote about reading on the trip I took to Colombia. This is what I said back then:
BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain- Debut novel from that dude who was the author in Malcolm Gladwell’s late bloomer essay. Well motherfucker has bloomed, that’s for sure. The story of an American military squad on a two week publicity blitz hero tour, if this novel isn’t shortlisted for a Pulitzer I will punch myself in the face and put it on YouTube.
So I’ll say more than fifty words about this book now. First off, I still will punch myself in the face if this book does not win the Pulitzer next year, that’s how deserving I think it is of the honor. I also think the third-person in this book is some of the most vibrant prose I’ve read in I don’t even know how long. This is not unobtrusive, quietly objective, playing it safe prose. This is wild and crazy and risk-taking and full of fire and music third-person. It has the personality of a great first person story with the omniscience you can’t get with a protagonist rocking the narration of his own story.
So this book has style to spare, and holy cats and dogs does it have substance. We have a brief window of time (a day really, with a lot of flashbacks thrown in) to follow these military guys (late teens and early twenties, they’ve JUST stopped being boys and JUST started being guys and are KIND OF men because they’ve been through war-hell and back but are also still BASICALLY boys) on the last day of their hero tour as they attend a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day. The central conflict of the story is Billy, our not-book-smart-but-life-smart protagonist, a specialist in the receiving-a-hero’s-welcome-home Bravo Squad, deciding whether or not he’s going to return to Iraq to serve out the rest of his tour. The story is populated with vibrant characters and their compelling relationships with one another, the other members of Bravo Squad, living and dead, Billy’s out-of-a-Eugene-O’Neill-play family, the Hollywood producer following the squad all day as he hustles to get their story turned into a movie, the Cowboys’ richer-than-God owner, and a Cowboys cheerleader with whom Billy has a one-day almost-fling with.
It is a powerful read. It is an original read. It is a f—-ing FUN read. And if it doesn’t win the Pulitzer (or get super crazy shortlisted) I’ll probably have to punch the Pulitzer committee in the noses (in addition to myself, because I will already be punching myself in the face).
For serious, read this book so I don’t have to punch you too.
WHAT KIND OF BOYFRIEND IS HE: A sweet and tortured army specialist with a lot of hopes and dreams and existential crises on his hands. I mean COME ON, if that’s not sexy, I don’t even know what sexy means anymore.
MY DATE WITH BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (read this one on my iPad):
Yay, you’re home from war?
Wait, you’re going back tomorrow?