Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review -- Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk


Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating: 4 (took me awhile to have an "aaha" moment)
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  General fiction
Objectionable material:  Language, including the F-bomb; multiple sexual references

Remember the war? The one in Iraq? Or is it Afghanistan? I know we are in one place, but not the other? (Yes, I know, we are out of Iraq – officially December 2011, just so you don’t think I’m stupid – but didn’t you think twice (where are we exactly?), just for a moment?).
 
Americans have a tendency to forget the goings on across the globe, even when it involves the lives of thousands of service men and women ho are engaged every day, risking their lives to insure peace and democracy to those in the Middle East. We only remember when it interrupts our dinner with a CNN news crawl, or a press briefing, or notice in the local paper if a resident soldier KIA.

Or when a hero, like Billy Lynn, returns home after his Bravo Squad heroically engages Iraqi insurgents, and is given a nationwide celebration tour to honor his and his buddies efforts.

Ben Fountain’s book, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, is a brilliant, albeit mocking, look at how Americans (in general) treat our wars – like they are a sporting attractions (Get your popcorn! And watch an IED explode!) – and our service personnel – like they are rock stars or famous athletes (if they’ve done well) or if not, they are lost in the shuffle up on their return. Our pats on the back, or our, “thanks for your service,” or our yellow ribbons or flag waving are nothing more than feigned acknowledgements of what they actually do over “there” – which very few of us understand.

Truthfully, I didn’t “get this” when I started reading it – it was very slow in the beginning – then, it was like, “Oh – now I know what the author is doing!”

It’s not an easy book to read – but read it anyway.