Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old hero of the war in Iraq.  He and his fellow soldiers, known as the Bravos, have become instant celebrities, thanks to a TV news clip, and are being wined and dined in the U.S. before heading back to the Middle East.  Their final fete is at the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.  Billy is a Texan himself, being clapped on the shoulder by the fat-cat owner of the Cowboys and by a movie producer who desperately wants to put together a Hollywood deal before our boys ship out again.  Billy's take on all this is one of culture shock in his own country—his home state, even—intensified by a mammoth hangover.  Two temptations loom large.  One is a Bible-thumping Dallas Cheerleader who seems to actually connect with Billy.  The other is an opportunity to hop into a car that will take him to a refuge where an anti-war group will help him avoid serving out his remaining time in Iraq.  Billy is certainly savvy enough to weigh the pros and cons of this latter option, although he hasn't had a lot of say in his fate to date.  In fact, a judge ordered him into military service, and his act of heroism in Iraq was just doing "what my training told me to do."  Every time I thought I had a handle on who this guy is, he seemed to slip through my fingers.  What really made me squirm, though, was how awkward and uncomfortable his conversations with civilians, especially strangers, are.  Billy's dilemma humanizes him and maybe brings us a small step closer to understanding what he's going through.

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