Episode 71 — Ben Fountain


Ben Fountain is the guest.  He is the author of the debut short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (Harper Perennial), which won him the PEN/Hemingway Award.  And now he has published his first novel, entitled Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, available from Ecco.

Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn, has this to say about Billy Lynn:

[T]he Catch-22 of the Iraq War….Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become. Live one day inside Billy Lynn’s head and you’ll never again see our soldiers or America in the same way.

And the New York Times calls it

[An] inspired, blistering war novel…Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn’s surreal game day experience.

So pleased to have Ben on the program.

Topics of conversation include:  North Carolina, Dallas, bigness, free market evangelicals, Don’t Mess with Texas, American culture, Dallasification, consumerism, ethnocentrism, E.L. Doctorow, racism, outsiders, politics, conservatism, liberalism, outspokenness, conflict, bourgeoisie culture, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, the Civil War, monopolies, assassinations, history, cycles, segregation, poverty, white guilt, public school, Iraq, George W. Bush, disillusionment, depression, education, health care, law, house husbandry, late bloomers, Malcolm Gladwell, slow learners, student loan debt, approved infrastructures, fitting in, money, identity, selling your soul, security, persistence, failure, living off the reservation, rejection, Haiti, and The Texas Itch.

Monologue topics:  mail, David Rees, bullying, sociopaths, drinks, dreams, menacing forces, and my subconscious.