Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn is home from war. Back in Texas, he has become a national celebrity. A Fox News crew filmed Billy and the rest of Bravo squad defeating Iraqi insurgents in a ferocious firefight. Now Billy is a decorated soldier and Bravo's three minutes of extreme bravery under fire are a YouTube sensation. Seizing on this PR gift, The Bush administration has sent the surviving members of Bravo on a nationwide 'Victory Tour' to reassure the homeland. Today, during the final hours of the tour, they arrive at Texas Stadium, guests of honour in a nationally broadcast Thanks giving Day game. The story follows Billy and his fellow Bravos through a climactic afternoon, as they mix with the rich and powerful, endure the politics and affections of their fellow citizens, aspire to sex and marriage with the famous Cowboys cheerleaders, share centre stage with Destiny's Child and attempt to close a movie deal. They will learn hard truths about love and death, family and friendship, duty and honour. Tomorrow, they must go back to war. Tender and full of humanity, this is a wickedly funny, powerfully contemporary novel about a young man, the citizens who sent him to war, the family he left behind and the era that let it happen. In "Billy Lynn", Ben Fountain has created a new American hero for our times.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2012: Billy Lynn and his Bravo squad mates have become heroes thanks to an embedded Fox News crew’s footage of their firefight against Iraqi insurgents. During one day of their bizarre Victory Tour, set mostly at a Thanksgiving Day football game at Texas Stadium, they’re wooed by Hollywood producers, smitten by Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and share a stage at halftime with Beyonce. Guzzling Jack and Cokes and scuffling with fans, the Bravos are conflicted soldiers. “Okay, so maybe they aren’t the greatest generation,” writes debut author (!) Ben Fountain, who manages a sly feat: giving us a maddening and believable cast of characters who make us feel what it must be like to go to war. Veering from euphoria to dread to hope, Billy Lynn is a propulsive story that feels real and true. With fierce and fearless writing, Fountain is a writer worth every accolade about to come his way. --Neal Thompson