Back when the world of book publishing was focused around a few areas of Manhattan Island, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Back when the world of book publishing was focused around a few areas of Manhattan Island, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" (BLLHW) would have been considered a mordant and witty satire on American culture and politics.
But today, with factions of the country hording their own myths as facts, BLLHW is better understood as a kind of blue-state analysis of red state life, written by a blue-state-red stater, also known as a liberal southerner.
This book takes place in the early 2000s, around the time an obscure Illinois state legislator told the 2004 Democratic Party Convention, "There are no red states. There are no blue states. There are only the United States."
President Obama probably doesn't think that anymore, and if Ben Fountain's entertaining novel was available, instead of merely being written at the time, he might not have said those things.
"Billy Lynn," juxtaposes the deadly serious concerns, thoughts, and fears of Bravo Company's legitimate Iraq war heroes with the predatory motivations of Hollywood (they want to make a movie of the yunguns exploits), and the silliness and excess of the culture around the Dallas Cowboys football club.
The setting is mostly the old stadium the "Boys" played in for 30-plus years. It's where Bravo Company is to be feted at half-time for battlefield heroics witnessed by the entire country thanks to the extended reach of modern telecommunications.
And thanks to the longevity of Beyonce Knowles's career, her turn as star during that half-time in BLLHW was matched at the 2013 Super Bowl, keeping Fountain's novel relevant and hip despite the passage of time and further degeneration of national discourse.
The author has great fun making great fun of conservative Texans, Cowboy fans, and overpaid, overfed football players sacrificing nothing but a lot of hot air for a war the Bravo boys feel they are fighting on their own.
Texas is the place, but the extrapolation to the farthest regions of our country is easy because BLLHW has little patience for yahoo-jingoism, conspicuous consumption of the vulgar kind, and the disconnect Fountain proposes exists between the lifestyles of most Americans and everybody outside the bubble dome isolating them.
BLLHW goes down easy as fast food, but its nutritional value is without question.