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Best of Dallas: Arts & Culture

The Editors with Rob Brinkley | December 27, 2016 | Feature Features

These are the people and businesses that made our city an exciting vibrant place to live. If this was last year, we can't wait to see what's in store for 2017.
TEXAS TALENT Maren Morris was heavily influenced by her parents, who regularly listened to Fleetwood Mac and Patty Griffin.

The Storyteller
Back in October, Ben Fountain found himself in a place he wasn’t sure he should be. As he made his way down the red carpet at the New York Film Festival premiere of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, seemingly thousands of cameras flashed while reporters took turns peppering him with questions. For the film’s stars—including the likes of Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin—it was just another day at the office. But for Fountain, the author of the best-selling book on which Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee’s movie is based, the scene was nothing short of surreal. “I was kind of bemused by it all,” says the soft-spoken 58-year-old. “It’s not often the writer is put front and center like that—I started to wonder if it was a mistake by Sony.” Fountain’s path to the red carpet began nearly three decades ago, when he quit his job at a Dallas law firm to write full time. “It was interesting when it wasn’t hellish,” the North Carolina native says of his brief stint practicing real estate law in the 1980s. Though he gave up on the profession, Fountain stuck with writing, even after what he calls “years and years of failure.” His first novel—the aforementioned Billy Lynn, which follows a group of soldiers at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving 2004 game at Texas Stadium—wouldn’t come to be until 2012, but the book soon caught the attention of critics across the country, earning rave reviews and being named a finalist for a National Book Award. These days, Fountain spends his workweeks teaching a fiction workshop at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin while working on a new novel set in 1990s Haiti that tackles topics as wide-ranging as politics, power, shipwrecks and quantum physics. When asked if Dallas will ever play a role in his writing again, the 33-year resident had a quick answer: “How could it not?”

Ben Fountain Photo by Inti St. Clair


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