Meopham

Billy Lynns Long Half Time Walk

Billy Lynns Long Half-time Walk, by Ben Fountain

This was a book which failed to impress many in our group, with a number of people failing to reach the end, or indeed getting past the beginning. It was well-received by the newspaper critics upon its publication.

(Comments below from the Guardian)

“Ben Fountain's blinder of a first novel has been a long time coming. His full-length debut has finally emerged – a fierce, exhilarating novel about the Iraq war. As Karl Marlantes, the Vietnam veteran and novelist who dubbed it "the Catch-22 of the Iraq war", explained, it is a book about "the American way of watching war". And it is terrific, 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."

Billy Lynn is eloquent and angry, funny and poignant. Bravo squad are heroes. For the eight soldiers, the trip is an ambiguous experience, to say the least, since they also lost one of their men during the fight.The novel is niftily perfect. The plot strands holding the set pieces together are thin: Billy's flirtation with a cheerleader is "the sort of delusion a desperate soldier would dream up".

Fountain has a marvellous ear for dialogue; Billy Lynn is written in a sharp, profane language that makes UK English sound terminally dull. Billy Lynn is an exhilarating read and convincingly damning of Bush's America.