By David Abrams
David Abrams served as a journalist in the U.S. Army for two decades before retiring in 2008. His short stories have appeared in Salon and Esquire. Fobbit is his first novel.
THE STORY: In the Army, a Fobbit is considered a noncombat inhabitant of a Forward Operating Base, one of the many clerks, lawyers, cooks, musicians, and drivers who work behind the scenes in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Chance Gooding Jr. is a Fobbit. As a public affairs officer stationed in Saddam Hussein's former palace, he enjoys good food, air conditioning, and a reliable Internet connection. Each day, Gooding drafts press releases, trying to spin tragedy and bloodshed into something more upbeat. But as his incompetent superior edits his work into words that no longer resemble truth, he realizes the stark contrast between how events happen and how they are reported.
Grove Press. 384 pages. $15. ISBN: 9780802120328
Seattle Times ****
"His debut novel rings with wellobserved experience and well-earned sardonic wit." MARK LINDQUIST
NY Times Book Review ****
"Abrams makes some beginner's errors: the dialogue is occasionally stilted, and I wish he spent more time with the actual Fobbits instead of the infantryman Capt. Abe Shrinkle, whose incompetence makes Gooding's job more challenging. ... But this is a minor complaint, and in fact I applaud David Abrams for sticking to his vision and writing the satire he wanted to write instead of adding to the crowded shelf of war memoirs." CHRISTIAN BAUMAN
Boston Globe ****
"The book meanders through boredom, anguish, and absurdity, and in its details feels stunningly authentic. Some of the characters are less so--there's a cartoonish quality to the overweight mama's boy of a boss--but the book is still a delicious, unsettling read." KATE TUTTLE
Los Angeles Times ****
"The problem with writing a darkly comic novel about soldiers caught in the maelstrom of modern warfare is that it inevitably invites comparison with Joseph Heller's classic Catch-22, which is unfortunate, because, let's face it, there's only one Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. ... But Abrams does have a genuine sense of humor that is more often than not on point, and a productive sense of irony to go with it that...