Ink, paper, tea, fizzy water, yard work… Ben Fountain talks about writing “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
Ben’s debut novel – my favorite of the year so far – was an Amazon #1 Best Book of the Month for May. I had previously asked him about the book’s opening line (pictured below): “I wanted to drop you right into the middle things. I didn’t want to start with back story,” he told me by phone. “It just came to me and it felt right so I started from there.”
- First line: The men of Bravo are not cold.
- Last line: He sits back, closes his eyes, and tries to think about nothing as the limo takes them away.
- And, for kicks, smack-dab in the middle: “This is crazy,” she whispers when they come up for air.
As I wrote in my review for Amazon, the author “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–and return. 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.”
Here’s a 2008 New Yorker story by Malcolm Gladwell about Fountain – and late bloomers.