Ben Fountain says his wife’s comment that he, a former Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld associate, will never return to lawyer-dom represents: “a safe assumption on her part.” His wife, Sharon Fountain, a partner in Dallas’ Thompson & Knight, has supported Ben Fountain as he has launched himself as a fiction writer.
His first novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, was published May 1 and it has received rave reviews in The New York Times and elsewhere. Both husband and wife welcome the reviewers’ kind words about the novel, which the Times calls, “a gripping, eloquent provocation.”
The 307-page book, according to the publisher’s description, tells the story of the eight surviving men of a ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents — three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew — who have become America's most sought-after heroes and are concluding a Bush administration-launched media tour to reinvigorate public support for the war as guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, and are slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child. The lead character is a 19-year-old Texan.
Fountain, who in 2006 had published a well-reviewed collection of short stories, “Brief Encounters With Che Guevara,” which Texas Lawyer wrote about in 2008, says: “All along, my fiction has been tied pretty closely to the actual world.” That means, he says, he drew from real-life characters he met as a lawyer for some of the traits of fictional ones in this novel. “There are quite a few wealthy successful men who float through its pages. I would say my experience, my five years as a lawyer in commercial litigation, and one year in real estate finance, gave me some good ideas for those types. They want to make a lot of money and spend a lot of money and leave a big wake behind them.”
-- Miriam Rozen