Originally published in 2012, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, is known for it’s good reviews and riveting storyline. The movie just came out in November of 2016, and we couldn’t resist revisiting this heartwrenching story.
So, here’s the good and the bad, what you can expect from the reading experience, and why you should give it a chance.
Set in Texas during America’s war in Iraq, this satire touches on the national disconnect between the war abroad and the one at home. It focuses on a group of veterans who are hailed heroes and sent on a victory tour. This includes participating in the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving halftime show.
Primarily told from 19 year-old Specialist Billy Lynn’s perspective, readers quickly notice his struggles to reconnect with his loved ones.
It might come off a little strange for those of us who actually remember the Bush Administration, and the minute the troops were first sent to Iraq. It’s strange, because we know what really happened, and the dirty politics behind it all. So, this hits home with readers in their 20’s or older, because we can relate to this quite a bit.
More importantly, this story highlights what’s wrong with society. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is filled with perception. For instance, people are more interested in reality shows and TV gossip, than the war, and yet, the troops risk their lives. Society spends millions on sports like football, but they pay soliders barely anything in return. Showering them with trinkets and thanking them, before shipping them off again.
This novel highlights what’s wrong with society, and does it in a captivating, addicting, and honest way. Ben Fountain scored a touchdown with this one.
The one issue people seem to have with this book, and this is a pretty valid point, is that it’s more of a string of linked events. Traditionally, books have plots. This book really focused on a singular moment in time, a day, to be exact. There’s no plot other than the day’s events and Billy Lynn’s reflection on society.
The points made in the novel can come off as repetitive, which can alienate some readers. Then again, one could argue that the points are honest and valid, and are simply driven home throughout the novel.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is perfect to read when you’re already in that pondering, doubtful mood. It highlights what’s wrong in society, and influences readers to do something about it. Suddenly, getting the new iPhone doesn’t seem that important. Keeping up to date on the latest celebrity gossip isn’t crucial. But becoming aware of society’s ill-placed priorities does.
Few books promote change like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk does. So, if you’re OK with novels based on the events of a single day, this is a must-read for sure. Just remember, it is meant to frustrate, ignite change, and shed light on situations readers might have otherwise overlooked. These are powerful influences that will surely change how you view yourself, and your priorities.
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