Celebrated Dallas writer Ben Fountain was on Think this week, talking with Krys Boyd about his debut novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — the novel that took Ben years to write after the remarkable success of his debut short-story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
Billy Lynn follows Bravo Squad, sent on a whirlwind “Victory Tour” from Iraq by President Bush to reinvigorate our flagging support for his administration’s war. The squad had become American heroes after a Fox News video of a brutal ambush they were in went viral — a firefight against a larger force that left one of their number dead and a second grievously wounded. The squad members are in Dallas on tour — the last day before they’re shipped back to Iraq — having to meet and greet at Cowboys Stadium. As Krys Boyd says, it’s the first war novel set entirely inside a football game.
Warfare, football,Texas and big-money politics: Fountain is aware his targets may not be that new; it’s what he does with them that keeps them from being caricatures. The cheerleaders aren’t bimbos, the billionaire Swift Boate actually speaks some wisdom, the Hollywood producer isn’t a lying sack. Meanwhile, Billy wrestles with confusions over faith, love and duty.
Ben will be talking to Arts & Letters Live May 18, but you can listen to Ben and Krys here: