Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Fountain) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
[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.
Janet Maslin - New York Times


Brilliantly done...grand, intimate, and joyous.
New York Times Book Review


A masterful gut-punch of a debut novel.... Catch-22 is about to be updated for a new era. In his immortal classic, Heller was lampooning the military's attempt to bureaucratize the horror of World War II. In Fountain's razor-sharp, darkly comic novel—a worthy neighbor to Catch-22 on the bookshelf of war fiction—the focus has shifted from bureaucracy to publicity, reflecting corresponding shifts in our culture…There's hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain's sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel.
Jeff Turrentine - Washington Post


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


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


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


[W]ickedly 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


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.
Malcolm Gladwell - The New Yorker


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


Billy Lynn is a member of Bravo Company, which acquitted itself heroically in a deadly confrontation early in the Iraq War. An embedded reporter captured the battle on widely broadcast video. Now, on the last day of a victory tour, an insane PR event put on by the army, the company is at a Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving football game. Native Texan Billy has been deeply affected by the death of squad leader Shroom, who gave him books to read and challenged him to think about what he was doing with his life. During a brief stop at home, Billy's sister urges him to refuse to return to Iraq. Billy also meets one of the fabled Cowboys cheerleaders, with whom he improbably forms an immediate and passionate connection, something that has opened a door to the possibility of a new, more hopeful life. But though Billy has had his eyes opened, in many ways he and his company are happier and feel more purposive as soldiers. Verdict: Employing intricate detail and feverish cinematography, Fountain's (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories) vividly written novel is an allegorical hero's journey, a descent into madness, and a mirror held up to this society's high-definition TV reality. Tragically unhinged, it also rings completely, hilariously true. —Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta
Library Journal


[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




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