Fobbit is a darkly ironic novel of the Iraq war that marks the debut of a new voice in literary fiction. Based on the author’s own experiences serving in Iraq and the diary he kept there, Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating Base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield—where the grunts eat and sleep between missions, and where a lot of Army employees have what looks suspiciously like an office job. The FOB contains all the comforts of home, including Starbucks and Burger King, but there’s also the unfortunate possibility that a mortar might hit you while you’re drinking your Frappucino.
A lot of what goes on at the FOB doesn’t exactly fit the image of war that the army and the government feed us: male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta-Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox and watching NASCAR between missions, and most of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy.
The book follows dyed-in-the-wool Fobbit Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding, who works for the army public affairs office and spends his days tapping out press releases to try to turn the latest roadside bombing or army blunder into something that the American public can read about while eating their breakfast cereal. Like Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, Fobbit fuses pathos with dark humor to create a brilliantly witty and profound work about the ugly and banal truth of life in the modern-day war zone.
Lisa C. says:
Fobbit 'fä-b t, noun. Definition: A U.S. soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.
"Abrams has created a novel, using his own Iraq war experiences, about a group of military journalists and clerks who are serving on the FOB and the infantry who are in the battlefield. By alternating chapters, Abrams shows us the dirty, dangerous, gut-wrenching conditions in which the infantry serve and juxtaposes them with the behind-the-battle scenes of life in Sadam's palace, where Fobbits live and work. Surrounded by the razor-wire enclosed and heavily guarded compound, they have their choice of video games, fast food restaurants, instant care packages, movies, Starbucks, and even a gym. From the exploits of incompetent Capt. Shrinkle (aptly named) in the field, to the convoluted path of a press release (crafted and re-crafted so many times that by the time it is sent out it is too old to use because CNN has beat them to it hours before), this book chronicles the absurdity and tragedy of war. It is laugh-out-loud funny, sad, stressful and memorable."