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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)

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3.84 of 5 Votes: 3
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0060885599 (ISBN13: 9780060885595)

About book Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)

Despite what it says on the cover, this book is not the 'Catch-22 of the Iraq War'. But that's ok. There are dozens of books that are similarly doomed to end up less appreciated than they ought to be because some hack over-reached in praise.That said, if the Catch-22 of the Iraq War/War on Terror ever does get written, like Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, it will need be set on the home front. If WW2 showed the madness of men drawn away from their loved ones, across distant shores, unsure if they would ever see home again, the true moments of madness in today's conflict occur at home. A place where these fighting men find themselves far more isolated from their peace time society than if they were still overseas in the barracks. At least over there everyone understands nature of their relationship, back home no one does.This is a fun read, with some good character sketches, and I enjoy books that occur over a single afternoon/day when done well (Ian McEwen's Saturday is another good example - though the challenge is always to pack in enough to be engaging without seeming like the characters live life at triple speed). This one doesn't quite get there. I never felt the story amounted to enough, nor were the insights about the war, soldiers and their relationship with society fresh or lasting.Indeed, that is perhaps the book's biggest sin. The writer is from Texas where the book is set, and captures the lingo well with some fun use of onomatopoeia's and formatting. But in setting his bewildered returned soldiers amongst a crowd of conservative, football watching Texans, he seems to never get beyond dull steryotypes. Everyone they meet seems of the 'we love bombing foreigners' genre enabling the author to make tired digs about Bush and Cheney sending men to war while they avoided Vietnam. This seems a real missed opportunity both politically and as a piece of fiction. At times something more is hinted at when a walk on character will praise the soldiers in the name of freeeedom/nine-leven/demoocrasi/jeezzzzus/ and then turn to the soldiers and half-whisper 'but are we actually winning?'. Yet such moments are unsatisfyingly rare and unfulfilled.I always wonder about writers who write about characters they don't like (in this case the rich conservative crowd the soldiers largely engage with on this day), without ever quite trying to empathise with them. You don't have to agree or even like everyone in your story, but tragedy and comedy require us to have some sense of association and understanding, not just with the victims but also with their tormentors. Instead this book presents its villain's as mindless rather than out of their minds. Thus feeling closer to Blackadder's portrayal of war, than Catch-22s.Still, probably worth your time if you like politics. Overwritten prose, heavy-handed themes, repetitive narrative, and largely one-dimensional characters. The staging of the novel -- heroic soldiers disillusioned amid a glitzy victory tour back home -- is loaded with self-evident dramatic irony, and the redundant scenes of Bravo being asked uncomfortable questions by (mostly) well-meaning but oblivious war-supporting Texans lack any subtlety and nuance.The attempts at satirizing Hollywood are undermined by the story's own Hollywood-esque contrivances; it's as if a producer looked at a first draft and said, "We need a romantic subplot, so let's have Billy hook up with a cheerleader. Also, let's have Bravo get into an on-field skirmish with random jerks, because why not."I guess, given the novel's accolades, I was expecting a more complex moral argument and a sharper narrative.

Do You like book Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012)?

Pretty damn amazing. Not a false note to be found. God save the Billy Lynns.

Promising, fails with an overly didactic hand.

Read this. It's fantastic.

Dacula, Buford

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