In his review of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, former D Magazine staffer (two tours!) Rod Davis says, “I am late getting to the party on Ben Fountain’s acclaimed, relentless novel that is not a war novel but a combattere interruptus about what happens to soldiers when they return home.” If you, too, are late to the party, read Rod’s review. Perhaps it will convince you to buy a copy. I hope so.
Rod made a connection that was a bit jarring to me, only because it’s an obvious one that I hadn’t yet seen: Ben Fountain’s book and the murder of Chris Kyle. Rod begins his review with a quote from the latter, as it appeared in the Dallas Morning News this month:
“It is so hard becoming a civilian,” Kyle said. “When you are in the military, everything you do is for the greater good. And as a civilian, everything you do is for your own good.
“When you’re in the military, you are facing life and death every day. And then you come home and hear people who are unhappy about the little things. And you think, are you kidding me? Two weeks ago, I was shot. And this is your problem. … They train us how to become warriors, but then they don’t teach us and train us how to become businessmen.”
Dammit. Reading those words hurts. Two of the saddest, most compelling stories you’ll ever hear about soldiers trying to readjust to civilian life — one in the pages of a novel, the other on a shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge. I hope people are listening.