When you think about it, Texas is weird. Sports? Also weird.
And civilian life seen through the eyes of a 19-year-old solider is the weirdest of them all. Or so it seems in Ben Fountain’s first novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
The Dallas author (whose short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, received numerous awards) takes us through one day at Texas Stadium — a Cowboys game on Thanksgiving — during which Billy Lynn and his fellow troops are honored for their heroics in Iraq.
Throughout the day, Bravo Squad is tailed by a movie producer, a PR person, and the ghost of one of its own. Billy gets drunk, smokes dope, meets the players, and falls in love with a redheaded cheerleader. Fountain unfolds his tale in a way that is deeply perceptive about the human condition.
His prose is as sharp as the sound of gunfire. The story is as surprising as a night raid.
Like life itself, it is bizarre and beautiful at once.
Available at amazon.com, $16.
Photo: Courtesy of Ecco