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Extended Audio Sample Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel Audiobook, by Ben Fountain Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,594 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ben Fountain Narrator: Oliver Wyman Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9780062212672
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A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child.

Among the Bravos is the Silver Star–winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys' hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family—his worried sisters and broken father—and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy's mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.

Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms—soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain's reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It’s a darkly humorous satire about the war at home, absurd and believable at the same time.”

    Esquire

  • “The Iraq war hasn’t yet had its Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five, but Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a contender…A wicked sense of humor, wonderful writing, and, beneath the anger and outrage, a generous heart.”

    Tampa Bay Times

  • “The best book about the Iraq War and Destiny’s Child that you’ll ever read.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Seething, brutally funny…[Fountain] leaves readers with a fully realized band of brothers…Fountain’s readers will never look at an NFL Sunday, or at America, in quite the same way.”

    Sports Illustrated

  • “Fountain’s strength as a writer is that he not only can conjure up this all-too-realistic-sounding mob, but also the young believably innocent soul for our times, Specialist Billy Lynn. And from the first page I found myself rooting for him, often from the edge of my seat.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Darkly comic…Rarely does such a ruminative novel close with such momentum.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Ben Fountain combines blistering, beautiful language with razor-sharp insight…and has written a funny novel that provides skewering critiques of America’s obsession with sports, spectacle, and war.”

    Huffington Post

  • “Biting, thoughtful, and absolutely spot-on…This postmodern swirl of inner substance, yellow ribbons, and good(ish) intentions is at the core of Ben Fountain’s brilliant Bush-era novel.”

    Daily Beast

  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is not merely good; it’s Pulitzer Prize–quality good…A bracing, fearless, and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Employing intricate detail and feverish cinematography, Fountain’s vividly written novel is an allegorical hero’s journey, a descent into madness, and a mirror held up to this society’s high-definition TV reality. Tragically unhinged, it also rings completely, hilariously true.”

    Library Journal

  • “A masterful gut-punch of a debut novel…Catch-22 is about to be updated for a new era. In his immortal classic, Heller was lampooning the military’s attempt to bureaucratize the horror of World War II. In Fountain’s razor-sharp, darkly comic novel—a worthy neighbor to Catch-22 on the bookshelf of war fiction—the focus has shifted from bureaucracy to publicity, reflecting corresponding shifts in our culture…There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning, and structurally ambitious novel.”

    Washington Post

  • “[An] inspired, blistering war novel…Mr. Fountain…sets up this Thanksgiving game as an artfully detailed microcosm of America in general, and George W. Bush’s Texas in particular, during the Iraq war. Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce, and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn’s surreal game day experience.”

    New York Times

  • “Though the shellshocked humor will likely conjure comparisons with Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five, the debut novel by Fountain focuses even more on the cross-promotional media monster that America has become than it does on the absurdities of war…War is hell in this novel of inspired absurdity.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a big one. This is the brush-clearing Bush book we’ve been waiting for.”

    Harpers

  • “While Fountain undoubtedly knows his Graham Greene and Paul Theroux, his excursions into foreign infernos have an innocence all their own. In between his nihilistic descriptions, a boyishness keeps peeking out, cracking one-liners, and admiring the amazing if benighted scenery.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • A 2013 Chautauqua Prize Finalist
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • A 2013 Indies Choice Book Award Honor Book for Fiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, May 2012
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
  • Selected for the May 2012 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • A 2012 Library Journal Best Book: Top Ten
  • A 2012 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 ALA Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mrs.Houck | 2/8/2014

    " It took a while to get into this, but the story of a young soldier (he's 19) being taken to a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving in 2004 as part of a "heros tour" got to me strongly. Billy Lynn is a soldier from Texas that was and lauded for bravery after his unit was ambushed. His best friend was killed in the attack, and he is grieving at the same time he is being thrust into the limelight and given star treatment with his unit. All the while, he knows he is heading back to Iraq in a couple of days to put himself in harms way again. It is all rather surreal, but Billy deals with the various pressures on him and finds brief happiness in an encounter with one of the Dallas Cheerleaders. This would be a great book for older teens, especially those contemplating joining the military. It is a quick read, but thought provoking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 2/2/2014

    " I get it, I really do, but I think it could have been presented better. For someone that might be in the crowd of who is being criticized in this book it might open eyes. For me, I was just left wanting to know when the plot of the book was going to get going. In the end I was left with a feeling of that's it. Didn't really open my eyes to anything I didn't already know or agree with regarding the treatment of our troops. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pamela | 1/27/2014

    " I wanted to love this book, I really did, but my ADHD mind could not follow the writing style. No fault of the author, was just not for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mia | 1/25/2014

    " Wanted to really like this because all the reviews said it was so fantastic... it was good but not up to all the hype. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danleik | 1/21/2014

    " A great, fun read. Shades of Hunter S Thompson and Tom Wolfe. Eviscerates the bullshit mall-shopping macho support-our-troops culture of the Bush years while blue collar kids got IED'd in a pointless war on the other side of the globe. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bernadette | 1/19/2014

    " Gritty and revealing story about how we treat/invent heroes. The best line of the book: "Hell yeah, get the f*** out of here, says Sykes. Before they kill us, Crack seconds. Take us someplace safe. Take us back to the war." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tricia Dower | 1/10/2014

    " Full marks to Ben Fountain for the voice of Billy Lynn and an unashamedly antiwar novel. It takes place in only one day (with one or two flashbacks) but that's enough to show us how crass and uninformed Americans ("My people") seem to the nineteen-year-old Billy after one tour of duty in Iraq. Powerful and compelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn | 1/6/2014

    " novel of the year. surely. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 1/5/2014

    " Would have been a better short story "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 12/14/2013

    " An interesting book that gives a non-war perspective of soldiers and what they might go through when at home. Parts were a long, slow but perhaps by design. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard Retyi | 12/1/2013

    " I'm not quite sure how this book is a National Book of the Year finalist. It's okay, but in no way anything special. Pretty straightforward plot and themes, decently written but not amazingly so. It's fine, but not superlative. Meh. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 11/30/2013

    " Not much to say that hasn't been said. Ben Fountain is an incredible writer. Brilliant and heartbreaking. I cannot think of a novel that provides clearer insight into the current state of Americana. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin Boldon | 11/20/2013

    " sharp witted, satiric, yet sweet and sad, too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sam Reeves | 10/31/2013

    " I have never tried to predict a books success regarding awards such as a Pulitzer - BUT - I think this one might just get one or two major awards in 2012. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 10/26/2013

    " Why isn't Beyonce in more contemporary literary fiction, is an important question I pose the world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert Sims | 11/25/2012

    " Pretty real portrayal of an Army squad and how they might act during a hero tour before jingo-patriotic Dallas Cowboy Texans. Really, the ending is the weakest link. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 10/28/2012

    " Very tight writing - funny and sad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Connor Somgynari | 8/27/2012

    " A hilarious, piercingly insightful, and at times heartbreaking novel that reaches into the depths of the wartime American psyche and pulls out something beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aman | 8/7/2012

    " Beautifully written, interesting characters and the villain is a barely fictional version of Jerry Jones. What's not to love? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth Whited | 6/21/2012

    " Heartbreaking, but wonderfully truthful emotions "

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About the Author
Author Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain’s fiction has appeared in Harper’s, Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and other honors. He is the fiction editor of Southwest Review and lives with his wife and their two children in Dallas, Texas.

About the Narrator

Oliver Wyman is an actor and award-winning audiobook narrator. His first full-length audiobook, It’s Not about the Bike, won an Audie Award. Quickly renowned for his versatility, he went on to win several Audie Awards and eighteen AudioFile Earphones Awards in genres ranging from drama and humor to nonfiction and children’s stories.