Fobbit

David Abrams, 0

Fobbit

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.

Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding works for the army public affairs office and spends his days tap­ping out press releases to try to turn the latest roadside bomb into something the public can read about while eating their breakfast cereal. He is most definitely a Fobbit.

Fobbit takes us into the cha­otic world of Baghdad's Forward Operating Base Triumph. The FOB is the back-office of the battlefield - where the soldiers eat and sleep between missions, and where a lot of Army employees have what looks suspiciously like an office job.

What goes on at the FOB doesn't exactly fit the image of war that the army and the government want to portray: male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta-Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox 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. But, as Staff Sergeant Gooding finds out, things can very quickly spiral out of control even in this seemingly protected environment. 2.4 out of 5 based on 5 reviews

Fobbit

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 384
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1846557217
Publisher Harvill Secker
 

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.

Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding works for the army public affairs office and spends his days tap­ping out press releases to try to turn the latest roadside bomb into something the public can read about while eating their breakfast cereal. He is most definitely a Fobbit.

Fobbit takes us into the cha­otic world of Baghdad's Forward Operating Base Triumph. The FOB is the back-office of the battlefield - where the soldiers eat and sleep between missions, and where a lot of Army employees have what looks suspiciously like an office job.

What goes on at the FOB doesn't exactly fit the image of war that the army and the government want to portray: male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta-Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox 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. But, as Staff Sergeant Gooding finds out, things can very quickly spiral out of control even in this seemingly protected environment.

Reviews

The New York Times

Christian Bauman

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. At the start of the book, there is a joke about the illicit relationship between a couple of young enlistees, Simon and Allison. It’s funny — but it also gets at the intimacy of war, the primordial connection, the need for human contact in the face of death. “Fobbit” could have done with more of this. 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.

28/09/2012

Read Full Review


The Los Angeles Times

Nicholas Basbanes

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 takes full advantage of a milieu in which irony abounds.

17/09/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

David Annand

His narrator is a blimpish cartoon, his unreliability predictable and contained. And, while there’s no doubt Abrams has captured the patois of the base – the officialese and acronyms, toilet humour and jaded swearing – too often this language infiltrates the narration and this, combined with an over-reliance on slapstick, makes the comedy too broad for comparisons to Catch-22 to stand up.

04/05/2013

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Sam Leith

Abrams has a definite comic talent and a lively turn of phrase. The set-pieces are well done – there's an agonisingly plausible one involving an unexploded car bomb rammed up the backside of a tank – and the dialogue zings back and forth cheerily enough. Abrams is a good writer, in other words. I'm less convinced that he's a novelist. He struggles to assemble a plot, and his characteristic mode of comic exaggeration doesn't leave him with anywhere much to go in terms of a gear change.

04/04/2013

Read Full Review


The Independent

Doug Johnstone

Abrams's satirical swipes are tame. Surely everyone already knows that armies have large spin-doctoring departments to massage their image and message? The cynicism of that activity is hardly ground-breaking news, yet Abrams delivers it as if it's a brand new and outrageous revelation.

13/04/2013

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore