Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

92%

37 Critic Reviews

Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum.
-LA Times

Synopsis

New York Times Bestseller
Now a Major Motion Picture

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

“Mothers, father, sons, and daughters: read this giant-hearted novel.”
—MARIA SEMPLE, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Three minutes and forty-three seconds of intensive warfare with Iraqi insurgents—caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America’s most sought-after heroes. Now they’re on a media-intensive nationwide tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. On this rainy Thanksgiving Day, the Bravos are guests of a Dallas football team, slated to be part of the halftime show.

Among the Bravos is nineteen-year-old Specialist Billy Lynn. Surrounded by patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and support our troops bumper stickers, he is thrust into the company of the team’s owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a born-again cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Over the course of this day, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a searing and powerful novel that has cemented Ben Fountain’s reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.

 

About Ben Fountain

See more books from this Author
Ben Fountain is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. He has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and a Whiting Writers' Award, among other honors and awards. He and his family live in Dallas.
 
Published May 1, 2012 by Ecco. 325 pages
Genres: War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
All: 37 | Positive: 35 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Mar 19 2012

War is hell in this novel of inspired absurdity. 

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Geoff Dyer on May 18 2012

If at the end there’s a hint of contrivance as we hurtle toward the denouement, this doesn’t detract from Fountain’s achievement — grand, intimate and joyous.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on May 06 2012

The halftime of the title isn’t about the pause in the football game. It’s about this brief, stunning, life-changing pause in the way Billy Lynn, two-week American hero, goes to war.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Robert McCrum on Jul 15 2012

It is, as advertised, extraordinary writing, but essentially fiction for non-fiction readers.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Theo Tait on Jul 06 2012

Billy Lynn is an exhilarating read, and convincingly – if belatedly – damning of Bush's America.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Feb 27 2012

The often campy writing style and canned dialogue (“We, like, we wanna do somethin’ like you. Extreme, you know, cap some Muslim freaks...”) prevents the message from being delivered effectively.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Mark Chiusano on Sep 19 2014

It's more common for baseball to be the national pastime of choice in literature, but reading Billy Lynn, it's hard to imagine an America outside of Texas Stadium.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonathan Evison on Nov 28 2012

To read Billy Lynn is to engage in a pure, tactile state of sensory overload.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Emily Carter on May 27 2012

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.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Ellen Wernecke on May 21 2012

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk takes a righteous bite out of America in wartime through the eyes of Billy Lynn.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Jul 01 2012

Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeff Turrentine on Apr 30 2012

In Fountain’s war, once it has become abundantly clear that the Iraq mission cannot be accomplished, the only hearts and minds left to be won are those of ambivalent Americans back home...

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Wilson on Jul 15 2012

That aside, this is an exhilarating ride; funny, oddly touching, written with garish clarity

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Richard Z. Santos on May 22 2012

Somehow, Billy Lynn's biggest flaw is that at times it can be a little too clever.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Bryan Woolley on Apr 27 2012

It is a powerful, heartbreaking story of the great gulf between what the country thinks it is and what it is.

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Pajiba

Excellent
Reviewed by Scotsa1000 on Jan 02 2013

Its easy to see why this book ended up on so many “best of” lists for 2012.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Bob Gibson

.... is about America in a time of war and insecurity, about the pursuit of dreams both sweet and absurd, about how we define our heroes.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Good
Reviewed by Adam Langer on Dec 18 2012

...given all the brilliance that has come before, maybe hoping for a more satisfying wrap-up would be expecting too much. And anyway, when the Pulitzer committee announces its finalists and I'm recalling the best books I read in 2012, I'm pretty sure that I'll have forgotten the ending entirely.

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Express

Excellent
Reviewed by Charlotte Heathcote on Jul 29 2012

We view the contradictions of the western world in the 21st century through the penetrating gaze of Billy Lynn, a brilliantly drawn character who is half everyman, half visionary.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers on Dec 26 2012

The whole glorious novel is an intoxicating mixture of flamboyance and deadpan, of high-caliber wit and perfectly measured bathos.

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on May 27 2012

Fountain's novel asks us to think about those who fight and sometimes die for us — and about the reasons we ask them to do so.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Matt Gallagher on May 27 2012

“One doesn’t have to know exactly what right is to know what wrong looks like.” Fountain’s novel makes it clear that excess and indulgence isn’t it.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Thornton McCamish on Jul 01 2012

But Fountain's superb novel is a more frenetic encounter with history, and a more heartfelt one.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeff Turrentine on Apr 30 2012

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” asks us to consider the uncomfortable possibility that we don’t really know the answer anymore.

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Excellent
Reviewed by Brian Seemann on Dec 01 2012

Ben Fountain has written a debut novel that might be in line for some major literary awards later this year, so catch up now.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Scott Turrow on Dec 01 2012

This is an often funny and always vivid book about war and family and heroism.

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The Rumpus

Excellent
Reviewed by Elizabeth Word Gutting on Jun 12 2012

Fountain plays with these speeds of time with his own exquisite sense of timing, and by the book’s end it is clear that his patience has finally, beautifully, paid off.

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Graham Reid on Sep 06 2012

....pulls together a powerful and focused narrative, believable characters either enjoying or enduring their moment, and some humour to leaven the pain of them being in this hyper-heated crucible of media and public attention.

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Los Angeles Review of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Los Angeles Review of Books on May 08 2012

In the end, as smart and funny as it is, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is the literary equivalent of a particularly good Jon Stewart routine on The Daily Show.

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Time Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Lev Grossman on Dec 04 2012

Their voices have an authenticity unlike anything else in American fiction this year.

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New Zealand Listener

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Walker on Jun 09 2012

A breathtaking display of linguistic virtuosity and an astute analysis of the society that puts America at war, it is also funny, satirical, poignant and tragic.

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The Army Rumour Service

Excellent
Reviewed by Soggy4978

Is it Catch 22? In my opinion, no, but that doesn’t make this book any less enjoyable and nor does it mean that this satirical look at the home front is any less valid or necessary.

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PopCulture World News

Excellent
Reviewed by Lara H. Smith on Nov 29 2012

He’s created a story that hits close to home in an important and necessary way. 

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Writer's Voice

Excellent
Reviewed by Drew Adamek

... Fountain takes the reader back to that time with a canny ear and a deft use of language that reminds us of how totally the propaganda of war and terrorism took over our culture in the early 2000s.

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie on May 17 2012

...Ben Fountain has written a very brave and difficult book that takes a hard look at the cost of war both for our country and for the men and women tasked with fighting it

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Chris Beckett's Fiction

Good
Reviewed by Chris Beckett on Aug 10 2012

This is the most engaging novel I’ve read for a while. It’s about the Iraq War but is entirely set in America.

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The Truth About Lies

Good
Reviewed by Jim Murdoch on Jul 08 2012

Personally I liked it. I may never want to read another novel about the Iraq War or American foreign policy ...but if you are going to read one then this is not a bad read.

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