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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)

av Ben Fountain

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,5311229,133 (3.9)162
A satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. 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.… (mer)
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» Se även 162 omnämnanden

engelska (120)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (121)
Visa 1-5 av 121 (nästa | visa alla)
I liked this book much more than I thought I was going to. Highly vivid, it makes you feel right there "in the moment" with Billy on that one Sunday afternoon. Hugely successful at contrasting the reality being lived by the remote and hidden away soldiers of the "all volunteer" US military fighting the "war on terror", and the empty patriorism of the American public at home who haven't a clue about what it's really like and why it is even happening at all. Not that the soldiers know that either, which only compounds the tragedy. Add in the chilling pictures of who really holds power in America and you begin to understand why this book has received the acclaim it has. ( )
  Octavia78 | Nov 28, 2021 |
The American War Fantasy

Published in 2012 Ben Fountain's award-winning debut novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk paints a wildly satirical picture of America at war, in this case the Iraq War. It's worth reading now when we find ourselves in a period of rampant and perilous nationalism. Powerful ideas of exceptionalism, of military strength, of unilateralism, of being the chosen ones liberally laced with fear and xenophobia, these heady ideas all thriving today can lead to dangerous and deadly missteps, as they did in Iraq, and before that Vietnam.

Succinctly, Bravo Company engages in a brief firefight that Fox News captures on film and that then spreads like wildfire. The soldiers of Bravo find themselves declared national heroes and their short encounter dubbed "The Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal." They are brought home to be fêted in overblown American fashion, as stars of the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show. The novel focuses on nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn's reactions to the firefight and the American celebration of himself and his comrades.

Depending on your background and political viewpoint, different aspects of Fountain's fierce novel will resonate more with you than it will with others. Veterans will probably relate to most of Bravo Company's experiences. Business types might enjoy the insane path of the movie producer's negotiations to make a film about Bravo's skirmish for live, and resurrect his own career. Readers who like sharp writing will revel in Fountain's wicked way with scenes.

However, what most fascinates and constitutes the merit of the book is Fountain's piercing view of American popular culture, in particular how we cherish and need to reaffirm in our own minds our righteous role in the world. He focuses on this repeatedly until it strikes you as almost absurd, until it rings completely hollow and ultimately sounds like desperation. Because underneath all the protestations of the justice of deposing a dictator and establishing a democracy, lingering in the unconscious of the most avid drum beaters, is the belief (or suspicion in the most invested): we made a terrible and costly mistake invading Iraq. Here's the idea expressed late in the story in the most stark terms:

"Being honored feels a lot like work and it's worse out there on the aisle, sitting point for the Bravo-citizen interface. Yes sir, thank you sir. Yes ma'am, having a great time, absolutely. Billy passes programs down the row for everybody to autograph and has to make conversation while they come back. It's getting better, don't you think? It was worth it, don't you think? We had to do it, don't you think? He wishes that just once somebody would call him baby-killer, but this doesn't seem to occur to them, that babies have been killed. Instead they talk about democracy, development, dubya em dees. They want so badly to believe, he'll give them that much, they are as fervent as children insisting Santa Claus is real because once you stop believing, well, what then, maybe he doesn't come anymore?"

The skin in the game for those greeting the Bravos, and for just about everybody in the country, is American exceptionalism, the justice of the effort, born of the belief that we alone have the answer. And you wonder, what if people had real skin in the game, the same as was had in Vietnam? That is the universal draft (executed tighter than in the Vietnam era) instead of a paid military. That and clear-eyed acceptance of what really happened in Vietnam? Then would those in power be as fast to march off to war? Further, what of today, when bullying and aggression seem to be the approaches most favored by our president and his sycophants? ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
The American War Fantasy

Published in 2012 Ben Fountain's award-winning debut novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk paints a wildly satirical picture of America at war, in this case the Iraq War. It's worth reading now when we find ourselves in a period of rampant and perilous nationalism. Powerful ideas of exceptionalism, of military strength, of unilateralism, of being the chosen ones liberally laced with fear and xenophobia, these heady ideas all thriving today can lead to dangerous and deadly missteps, as they did in Iraq, and before that Vietnam.

Succinctly, Bravo Company engages in a brief firefight that Fox News captures on film and that then spreads like wildfire. The soldiers of Bravo find themselves declared national heroes and their short encounter dubbed "The Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal." They are brought home to be fêted in overblown American fashion, as stars of the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show. The novel focuses on nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn's reactions to the firefight and the American celebration of himself and his comrades.

Depending on your background and political viewpoint, different aspects of Fountain's fierce novel will resonate more with you than it will with others. Veterans will probably relate to most of Bravo Company's experiences. Business types might enjoy the insane path of the movie producer's negotiations to make a film about Bravo's skirmish for live, and resurrect his own career. Readers who like sharp writing will revel in Fountain's wicked way with scenes.

However, what most fascinates and constitutes the merit of the book is Fountain's piercing view of American popular culture, in particular how we cherish and need to reaffirm in our own minds our righteous role in the world. He focuses on this repeatedly until it strikes you as almost absurd, until it rings completely hollow and ultimately sounds like desperation. Because underneath all the protestations of the justice of deposing a dictator and establishing a democracy, lingering in the unconscious of the most avid drum beaters, is the belief (or suspicion in the most invested): we made a terrible and costly mistake invading Iraq. Here's the idea expressed late in the story in the most stark terms:

"Being honored feels a lot like work and it's worse out there on the aisle, sitting point for the Bravo-citizen interface. Yes sir, thank you sir. Yes ma'am, having a great time, absolutely. Billy passes programs down the row for everybody to autograph and has to make conversation while they come back. It's getting better, don't you think? It was worth it, don't you think? We had to do it, don't you think? He wishes that just once somebody would call him baby-killer, but this doesn't seem to occur to them, that babies have been killed. Instead they talk about democracy, development, dubya em dees. They want so badly to believe, he'll give them that much, they are as fervent as children insisting Santa Claus is real because once you stop believing, well, what then, maybe he doesn't come anymore?"

The skin in the game for those greeting the Bravos, and for just about everybody in the country, is American exceptionalism, the justice of the effort, born of the belief that we alone have the answer. And you wonder, what if people had real skin in the game, the same as was had in Vietnam? That is the universal draft (executed tighter than in the Vietnam era) instead of a paid military. That and clear-eyed acceptance of what really happened in Vietnam? Then would those in power be as fast to march off to war? Further, what of today, when bullying and aggression seem to be the approaches most favored by our president and his sycophants? ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
I read two books about troops in Afghanistan this week, one being "Outlaw Platoon", by Sean Parnell, and the other being "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", by Ben Fountain. While the two are not meant to be related, what they have in common is a story about bravery under fire by our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and the close brotherhood developed by the men who depend so much on each other. Additionally, and the reason I mention both books together, I think both books also give us an appreciation as to how hard it is for the pubic to appreciate what they go through and do, in one case while deployed, and in the other case, even while home on leave.
"Outlaw Platoon focuses on one Special Forces platoon in Afghanistan. This book tells a powerful story of what it's like being deployed in the war zone, and the intensity of several of the battles experienced. It's a very power account of the hardship the troops endure. Short of actually being deployed, it gives the reader insights into the physical and mental stresses the frontline troops have to face, and it's a story too few in the public seem to appreciate.

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain, in contrast, is a fictional account of a similar platoon, but this story picks up after the battles are fought, and describes their story while on a brief home leave from the war. After reading the true account of the "Outlaw Platoon", and then "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", these before-and-after-the-battle stories really drove home the point of how remote the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are from the lives of most Americans, and how little most of the public truly appreciate and understand the war effort. In Ben Fountain's book, Silver Star recipient Billy Lynn and his squad are home on a good will tour after their heroic efforts in the war, and are guests of the Dallas Cowboys for a football game. This story seems to drive home the point that the general public genuinely wants to appreciate the sacrifice of the servicemen, but these wars are just so far removed from our reality, it can just prevent the public and the troops from truly connecting. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
People who could use some humility in their lives. Of all the memorable lines and ideas in this remarkable book, that may well be the one that resonates most with me, it is definitely an accurate description of the 1 per centers and the denizens of "bro culture" that dominate the stands at sporting events these days. "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is a quick read that is deep and dense, a funny book that is poignant, sad, and observant, and is a book that had me nodding in agreement and marking passages as I read, something I don't do all that much. The characters in it are rich and well developed and the story takes place essentially in one day, a "Mrs. Dalloway" for the new century. So many issues are explored with nuance and intelligence. All I can say is I think everyone should read this book and truly think hard about it and about how they "support" the troops. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
Visa 1-5 av 121 (nästa | visa alla)
Every two or three years, if I'm lucky, I get my hands on a novel that I simply can't shut up about, a novel I shout from my humble mountaintop to anyone who will listen, a novel that I hand-sell any time I have a literate audience of one or more. In many cases, I'll purchase this novel, over and over and over, and put it in the hands of readers....One novel this year blew the top of my head off like no other, and that was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain....

No brow-beating, no navel gazing and no ranting. Just great storytelling, fully realized characters and sentences that crackle. In short, Fountain makes it look easy.
tillagd av zhejw | ändraNPR, Jonathan Evison (Nov 28, 2012)
 
The novel is niftily postmodern, in that it deals with a heavily mediated reality. Bravo squad aren't even called Bravo squad, but that was what the "Fox embed" christened them. They hear their story being spun in real time: "Carl, what can I say?" says Albert, the movie producer, on the phone. "It's a war picture – not everybody gets out alive." The stadium is dominated by the huge "Jumbotron" screen; Billy wonders whether "maybe the game is just an ad for the ads". But Fountain, like better-known writers of his generation such as Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, has dragged this ironic, media-saturated style back in the direction of sincerity, with rich, sharply drawn characters that you care about. Beneath the dazzle, there's a story as old and simple as Kipling's poem "Tommy": "They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls, / But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!"
tillagd av zhejw | ändraThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jul 6, 2012)
 
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.
tillagd av zhejw | ändraNPR, Nance Pearl (May 21, 2012)
 
There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel. (The whole story, with the exception of a flashback or two, takes place during the course of a single afternoon.) Billy and the other Bravos are, for the most part, uneducated, but they possess a rare intelligence that allows them to see things as they really are, which is not exactly the way the pro-war meme generators want Americans to see them.

By the novel’s end, we’re forced to reassess what it means to “support the troops.” Does it simply mean letting them know they’re in our prayers as we send them back into battle and go about our business? Does it mean turning them into gaudy celebrities? Or could there perhaps be a more honorable and appropriately humble way to commemorate their service? “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” asks us to consider the uncomfortable possibility that we don’t really know the answer anymore.
tillagd av zhejw | ändraWashington Post, Jeff Turrentine (Apr 30, 2012)
 

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Ben Fountainprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
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A satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. 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.

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