Author: Ben Fountain
Published: May 1, 2012
“It is sort of weird for being honoured for the worst day of your life.”
That is the situation that Billy and his fellow Bravo soldiers are dealing with when they return stateside for their victory tour. The novel is told through the perspective of Billy, the youngest of the squad and the ‘hero’ of the unexpected attack that now makes them national heroes. The final event of their victory tour has the members of the Bravo team getting to perform in the halftime show with Destiny’s Child during the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game.
While the story is leading up to the big event of the halftime show, the readers get a glimpse of the events that Billy has gone through to get to this point. Flashing back to the Thanksgiving diner he had with his family days before, conversations he had with his fallen Bravo solider that they lost during the attack, to the event that made him enlist in the army in the first place. This tied in with the exchanges he has with the owner of the Cowboys, his fellow Bravo members that all went through the same event together, and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader he falls head over heels for, Billy is clearly struggling.
Fountain tells his story by combining two things that are quintessentially American, football and the US armed forces. Having these two side by side makes the reader question why they value these two different entities almost equal in one another. The spectators of the game want the Cowboys to win the game equally as much as they want the Bravos to win overseas. Throughout the novel Billy is still struggling with what happened to him and his Bravo team at the same time has he is being thrown into this over-the-top spectacle that is the halftime show for the pure entertainment of other Americans.
Although the halftime show might seem like it is the novel’s climatic moment, it kind of falls flat if that is the intention of the scene. The story is more linear then that, telling the story of a young mans internal journey over several days in a more hills and valleys sort of way rather than him climbing a factious mountain to get to his moment of clarity.
“But a lot of the time that’s how it works, life gets so dark until we think all the light’s gone out of us. But it’s there, it’s always there. If we open the door a crack the light comes pouring in.”
Two-time Academy Award winner Ang Lee directs this book to movie adaptation. Starring Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin, and newcomer Joe Alwyn. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk comes to theatres November 11, 2016.