Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Writing Style

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Writing Style

Stream of Consciousness

Phew, boy, Ben Fountain is not a stingy guy with words. It's like he drank a gallon of coffee, sat down with his favorite thesaurus, and then wrote this book without worrying about writing in anything but stream of consciousness.

It all works, of course, because this style gets you deep down and intimate with Billy's thought processes. We know when Billy's mind starts to wander during a speech, for example. We know how thoughts of Shroom keep interrupting Billy's day. And we know how Billy's completely distracted by a glimpse of boobs:

Billy's mind wanders. Now that he's settled down somewhat he can give the cheerleaders his first considered look, and he had no idea there are so many of them, they are a life-sized sampler of rapturous female flesh with all colors on display, all flavors of sculpted tummy and supple thigh, scooped waist, contoured flare and furl of hip, and such breasts, oh Lord, such volumes of majestically fulsome boob overflowing the famous tail-knotted half shirt, yes, at any moment an avalanche could burst forth and bury them all, only a few scant inches of besieged cloth save Bravo from utter annihilation. (All American.174)

In a way, Billy doesn't trust anything but the workings of his own mind, so it's kind of appropriate that what we get as readers is all mind, all the time.

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