Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk


Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was harsh to rate this only 3 stars when I finished it last night, but I was slightly annoyed by the last 100 pages or so. My inner voice was screaming “Oh get on with it” as we (yet again) go from the stands, to another room, for another long protracted discussion about a movie deal that’s ultimately going nowhere.

Billy Lynn is very much a 21st century hero- a wild, reckless and bored youth, forced by circumstance into the army and from there, into bloody conflict in Iraq. His story is told, mainly, on a cold Thanksgiving before, during and after the big game at Dallas Cowboys. There’s booze, there’s punch-ups, there’s a hot cheerleader, but most of all there’s a very well painted picture of attitudes towards not only soldiers, but the wars they are fighting. While these attitudes are portrayed as solely American, among the banner waving patriotism, as a UK reader, it also rings true of attitudes over here, so don’t let the ‘All-American’ setting deter you from picking this up. Admittedly, if American football isn’t you’re thing (are you broken?) then you may zone out for small sections of the narrative.

My only criticism of the novel is I would have like more flashback to the family, his sisters especially, as they fascinated me.

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