Fobbit ’fa-bat, noun. Definition: A U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.
After reading Fire And Forget I made sure I looked up all the contributors to see if any of them had written a novel and David Abrams was the first to come up. I’d also been recommended the book separately by another reader who has the same taste in war fiction as me.
The Yellow Birds was an emotionally devastating book about the Iraq War in the tradition of James Jones and Tim O’Brien. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was a war novel about the home front full of the anger, absurdity, compassion and bewilderment any great war novel should have. Fobbit falls into another category of war novel, the comic novel, in the tradition of Catch-22 and M.A.S.H.
While Fobbit isn’t in the class of Catch-22 it does capture the same sense of the insane inherent in war zones. Set in a Forward Operating Base in Baghdad the novel centers around the Army’s Public Affairs Office where the war is being furiously spinned into positive stories that can be fed to the hungry media.
Chance Gooding must not only negotiate the minefield that is the chain of command but also keep on top of the multitude of stories that need to be put in a better light. Gooding’s job is made infinitely more difficult by the exploits of his immediate superior Eustace Harkleroad who is constantly either re drafting press releases, stuffing himself with the plethora of junk food readily available on the base or both. And the exploits of Captain Abe Shrinkle whose every decision while out on combat leads to a PR disaster for Godding.
David Abrams explores life as a Fobbit with wicked humour and a furious pace. While I usually lean toward the more serious novels when reading war fiction this was a unique and enjoyable take on the mess and disaster that was/is the war in Iraq.
Classification: War & combat fiction
Format: Paperback / softback (208mm x 132mm x 30mm)
Imprint: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press
Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date: 13-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United States