Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel (Paperback)
May 2012 Indie Next List
“Fountain has created a sort of inverted Odyssey in which our hero, Billy Lynn, comes home from the Iraq war to find a whole new catalog of trials and challenges awaiting him and the rest of Bravo Company before they are shipped back to the Gulf. Taking place on a single day, at a Thanksgiving football game in Dallas, the novel not only gives us a fresh take on how we view capitalism, materialism, ourselves, our country, and our military, but also provides a wonderfully empathetic tragic-hero in Billy Lynn, at once a brave and fearless fighting machine while still a very innocent and confused young man.”
— Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
This novel is the Catch-22 of this century (I intend this to be the highest of praise)—the quintessential war novel that captures with humor, irony, and pathos the absurdity and the horror of war. And incredibly Fountain does this not by setting his novel on the battlefields of Iraq, but in Texas, where Billy and the other survivors of a brutal Iraqi raid are making their final appearance of a publicity tour orchestrated by the Army, at the 2004 Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day NFL game. This is an absolutely brilliant setting in which to contrast these traumatized soldiers who signed up for duty because it seemed to be the best option and whose return to active duty in Iraq is imminent, with the fur and cashmere clad privileged folk who populate the suites at the NFL game. Fountain runs with it and dark hilarity ensues. He is at his best capturing hypocrisy and the absurd, but also the bond these soldiers share. And with extraordinary prescience he brings the very issues that increasingly divide our country today in sharp focus in this amazing, unforgettable book.— From Jeanne's Picks
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award!
From the PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, comes Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk ("The Catch-22 of the Iraq War" —Karl Marlantes).
A razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq, it explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad.
Ben Fountain’s remarkable debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys, their fans, promoters, and cheerleaders.
Ben Fountain was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in the tobacco country of eastern North Carolina. A former practicing attorney, he is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and the novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. Billy Lynn was adapted into a feature film directed by three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee, and his work has been translated into over twenty languages. His series of essays published in The Guardian on the 2016 U.S. presidential election was subsequently nominated by the editors of The Guardian for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife of 32 years, Sharon Fountain.
“[An] inspired, blistering war novel…Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn’s surreal game day experience.” — New York Times
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is not merely good; it’s Pulitzer Prize-quality good . . . A bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“A masterful echo of ‘Catch-22,’ with war in Iraq at the center. …a gut-punch of a debut novel…There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel.” — Washington Post
“Fountain’s excellent first novel follows a group of soldiers at a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day…Through the eyes of the titular soldier, Fountain creates a minutely observed portrait of a society with woefully misplaced priorities. [Fountain has] a pitch-perfect ear for American talk…” — The New Yorker
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a big one. This is the brush-clearing Bush book we’ve been waiting for.” — Harper's Magazine
“Brilliantly done . . . grand, intimate, and joyous.” — New York Times Book Review
“For Memorial Day why not turn to a biting, thoughtful, and absolutely spot-on new novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk…This postmodern swirl of inner substance, yellow ribbons, and good(ish) intentions is at the core of Ben Fountain’s brilliant Bush-era novel.” — The Daily Beast
“Ben Fountain combines blistering, beautiful language with razor-sharp insight…and has written a funny novel that provides skewering critiques of America’s obsession with sports, spectacle, and war.” — Huffington Post
“A brilliantly conceived first novel . . . The irony, sorrow, anger and examples of cognitive dissonance that suffuse this novel make it one of the most moving and remarkable novels I’ve ever read.” — Nancy Pearl, NPR, Morning Edition
“Seething, brutally funny…[Fountain] leaves readers with a fully realized band of brothers…Fountain’s readers will never look at an NFL Sunday, or at America, in quite the same way.” — Sports Illustrated
“Biting, thoughtful, and absolutely spot-on. . . . This postmodern swirl of inner substance, yellow ribbons, and good(ish) intentions is at the core of Ben Fountain’s brilliant Bush-era novel.” — The Daily Beast
“The Iraq war hasn’t yet had its Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five, but Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a contender… A wicked sense of humor, wonderful writing and, beneath the anger and outrage, a generous heart.” — Tampa Bay Times
“It’s a darkly humorous satire about the war at home, absurd and believable at the same time.” — Esquire
“Darkly comic…Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum.” — Los Angeles Times
“Fountain’s strength as a writer is that he not only can conjure up this all-too-realistic-sounding mob, but also the young believably innocent soul for our times, Specialist Billy Lynn. And from the first page I found myself rooting for him, often from the edge of my seat.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[A] masterly . . . tightly structured book [with] a sprawling amount of drama and emotion.” — The Rumpus
“Passionate, irreverent, utterly relevant Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk offers an unforgettable portrait of a reluctant hero. Ben Fountain writes like a man inspired and his razor sharp exploration of our contemporary ironies will break your heart.” — Margot Livesey
“[T]he shell-shocked humor will likely conjure comparisons with Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five…War is hell in this novel of inspired absurdity.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A truly wondrous first novel.” — Shelf Awareness
“[T]he Catch-22 of the Iraq War....Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become. Live one day inside Billy Lynn’s head and you’ll never again see our soldiers or America in the same way.” — Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn
“Ben Fountain stormed to the front lines of American fiction when he published his astonishing...Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. His first novel will raise his stature and add to his splendid reputation. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is both hilarious and heartbreaking.” — Pat Conroy
“Fountain is the Pen/Hemingway Award winner of the bristly and satisfying Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, so I expect lots from this book.” — Barbara's Picks, Library Journal
“Ben Fountain’s Halftime is as close to the Great American Novel as anyone is likely to come these days—an extraordinary work that captures and releases the unquiet spirit of our age, and will probably be remembered as one of the important books of this decade.” — Madison Smartt Bell
“While Fountain undoubtedly knows his Graham Greene and Paul Theroux, his excursions into foreign infernos have an innocence all their own. In between his nihilistic descriptions, a boyishness keeps peeking out, cracking one-liners and admiring the amazing if benighted scenery.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer
“So much of Fountain’s work...reads with an easy grace.... [S]ometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.” — Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
“Here is a novel that is deeply engaged with our contemporary world, timely and timeless at once. Plus, it’s such fun to read.” — The Millions
“The chasm between the reality and the glorification of war hasn’t been this surreal since Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.” — Sacramento Bee
“…wickedly affecting…Billy Lynn has courted some Catch-22 comparisons, and they’re well-earned. Fountain is a whiz at lining up plausible inanities and gut-twisting truths for the Bravos to suffer through.” — Philadelphia City Paper
“[A] wonderfully readable book [which] does something similar to Why Are We in Vietnam?, asking hard questions about the cultural short-sightedness that contributed to our involvement in Iraq. As a veteran myself, I can attest that it’s spot on.” — BookRiot
“To call Fountain’s work enjoyable would be an understatement because it quite simply is one of the best novels written in the past five years.” — Texas Books in Review
“The best book about the Iraq War and Destiny’s Child that you’ll ever read.” — Entertainment Weekly