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Fobbit Paperback – September 4, 2012
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A retired veteran whose 20-year career in the Army included a 2005 tour in Baghdad, Abrams is comfortable and convincing locating the action in Iraq. . . . Fobbit is a vicious skewering of this surprisingly large military subculture of war avoidance.”TIME
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. In Fobbit, he has written a very funny book, as funny, disturbing, heartbreaking and ridiculous as war itself.”New York Times Book Review
Fobbit blends fiction and journalism, an apt reflection of literary influences combined with [Abrams’s] experience in an Army public affairs team. . . . Though absurd, these Dickensian characters are all so skillfully wrought that we quickly accept their idiosyncrasies. . . . What’s most intriguing about this work is that, at its center, it is both a clever study in anxiety and an unsettling expose of how the military tells its truths. Fobbit traces how the Army story” is crafted, the dead washed of their blood, words scrutinized, and success applied to disasters.”The Washington Post
Akin to Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, Fobbit uses pathos and dark humor to present the ugly and banal truth of life in the modern-day war zone. . . . David Abrams [has] set fire to the truth in order to tell it.”Huffington Post
An impressive Iraq war satire. . . .[Abrams has] a genuine sense of humor . . . and a productive sense of irony to go with it. Fobbit is an impressive debut and holds out promise for more good things to come.”Los Angeles Times
Fobbit seems less interested in what Iraq was like than in where it went wrong. . . . Abrams wants to reveal the comedy and absurdity of these cubicled soldiers - and, through them, of the entire conflict. . . . when it comes to war literature, a comic novel will always do a better job with the big picture. This is the first thing to take from Fobbit.”San Francisco Chronicle
A harrowing satire of the Iraq War and an instant classic. . . . Abrams’s prose is spot-on and often deadpan funny . . . This novel nails the comedy and the pathos, the boredom and the dread, crafting the Iraq War’s answer to Catch-22.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Using diaries he kept as a public affairs man in Iraq in 2005, Abrams makes comedy from the clash between positive spin and personal terror."Men's Journal
A satire of comfortably numb life during wartime. . . . Abrams spent 20 years in the Army, including a tour of Iraq, and he merely has to lightly fictionalize his observations to point out the absurdities of American occupation.”Newsweek
[Fobbit] gives such full-blooded life to the soldiers whose pale, gooey center” is so antithetical to battlefield heroism that he propels the word into the everyday by the force of his narrative. . . . As mission builds upon mission, lie upon lie, Fobbit builds to its exclamation by terror and by tedium and by laughter. . . . Fobbit makes a sordid music of screams and makes its mark on Iraq war literature.”Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fobbit is hilarious, but the subject matter is deadly serious. This is a remarkable book because it was written by a man who served as a member of an army public relations team in Iraq, i.e. a fobbit himself. It is the rare writerindeed, the rare personwho can step outside of himself and see with cold clarity the humor and pathos of his situation and then bring the reader to the same understanding. David Abrams is such a writer.”Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War
"Fobbit is fast, razor sharp, and seven kinds of hilarious. It deserves a place alongside Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22 as one of our great comic novels about the absurdity of war."Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
"This delightful, readable, believable and useful book made me furious!"Tom McGuane
Fobbit, an Iraq-war comedy, is that rarest of good things: the book you least expect, and most want. It is everything that terrible conflict was not: beautifully planned and perfectly executed; funny and smart and lyrical; a triumph. This debut marks the arrival of a massive talent.”Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life
[Fobbit] is] like an Office-style satire that happens to be set on a military base in an active war zone. Its villains aren't suicide bombers but hectoring senior officers who make impossible demands.”Slate.com
You might not expect an Iraq War novel to be funny, but I laughedmore than onceas I read this one. I cringed, too. There’s simply so much to this book.” Fiction Writers Review
Fobbit is a tale of the Iraq war that manages to be as dark as it is funny, which is to say considerably. . . .[Abrams has] written a book that makes you laugh and makes you wince, often at the same time, all the while staying true to its message: that people are foolish on many levels, sometimes fatally so, but they are all motivated by the same basic needs, desires, and fears. . . . There are no heroes here, but no villains either. Each character fights his own war, and nobody wins.”The Millions
"Truly significant . . . a book about the absurdity of the way the war is fought, the way the war is projected back home, and the massive gulf between the two. . . . a cynical satire in the same vein as the best works of legendary wartime authors like Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, Kurt Vonnegut, and especially Joseph Heller. Like those authors, Abrams’ book is important for reasons beyond his genre or categorization as well. Perhaps most important, though, is the fact that he challenges Paul Fussell’s argument that the real war cannot be effectively presented in novels."The Rumpus
The insanity is linguistic, and Abrams’s dark humor about lying through language would appeal to George Orwell. . . . He is not mocking soldiers. His targets are stateside, residing in naïve government or civilian expectations about ground conditions in Baghdad (and elsewhere) two years after Saddam’s overthrow. . . . Fobbit invites us to laugh over our collective foolishnessfoolishness that sometimes includes deaths. That’s the toughest, most painful laughter of all.”Great Falls Tribune
The author describes Fobbit as an anti-stupidity’ novel, not an anti-war novel, and with 20 years’ service he has the evidence and flair to write the former. . . . Fobbit is bliss.”Military Times
Abrams shows these men and women in their natural habitats, stuck somewhere halfway between the actual violence of war and the goofy excess of American culture.”Book Riot
Abrams’s tale is powerful stuff.”Shelf Awareness
A unique behind-the-wire glimpse at life in the FOB and the process of spinning” a war for public consumption. A funny, hard-edged satire about recent history and modern war-making.”Library Journal
Sardonic and poignant. Funny and bitter. Ribald and profane.”Kirkus Reviews
If Vonnegut and Heller were the undisputed chroniclers of the madness of World War II, Abrams should be considered the resounding new voice of the Iraq War.”Montana Standard
Fobbit deserves a wide non-military audience. . . . Abrams, an Iraq war veteran himself, is able to portray not just the pointlessness and stupidity of the occupation but also its absurdity. . . . Fobbit is two things in one a scathing, deeply felt diatribe against military disasters large and small, and an often-hilarious examination of very human, very weak characters living next door to a combat zone. The good news is that you only have to buy one copy, and you should waste no time in doing so.”Bookreporter.com
Abrams has a definite comic talent and a lively turn of phrase. The set-pieces are well done . . . and the dialogue zings back and forth cheerily enough. Abrams is a good writer, in other words. . . . Much of the most interesting material in Fobbit is the stuff that reads like reportage or memoir.”The Guardian
Fobbit is a searing view of life on a Forward Operating Base in Iraq and the constant contradictions faced by U.S. soldiers who are told to kick down a door one minute and win hearts and minds’ the next. Funny and evocative, with great glimpses of soldier-speak and deployment day to day life, each laugh in the novel is accompanied with a troubling insight into the different types of battles that our soldiers encounter on a non-traditional battlefield.”Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
Fobbit should be required reading for America. Hilarious and tragic, it’s as if Louis C.K. and Lewis Black provided commentary to The Hurt Locker. There will be innumerable comparisons to Catch-22, but Fobbit, believe me, stands on its own.”George Singleton, author of Stray Decorum
"A darkly funny chronicle of the Iraq War, Fobbit explores the modern military machine with searing resolve. This is a book that speaks to the power of fictiona war story too profane and profound for the newspapers and the nightly news. Want to think, laugh and cry, all at the same time? Read this novel."Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom
With a gimlet eye and humor as dry as a desert sandstorm, Abrams captures the absurdist angle of the Iraq war. A direct counterpoint to hero-worshipping shoot ’em up” combat narratives, Fobbit proves that wit is as lethal a weapon as any Army-issue M16 or .50 cal.”Lily Burana, author of I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles
The first major work of fiction about America’s war for Iraq.”Aaron Gwyn, author of Dog on the Cross and The World Beneath
About the Author
More About the Author
You can see a trailer for "Fobbit" here: http://youtu.be/7x9d9UcOLUc
My short stories have appeared in Esquire, Narrative, Salon, Electric Literature, Salamander, Connecticut Review, The Greensboro Review, The Literarian, The Missouri Review, and other literary quarterlies. I regularly blog about the literary life at The Quivering Pen
I retired in 2008 after a 20-year career in the active-duty Army as a journalist. I was named the Department of Defense's Military Journalist of the Year in 1994 and received several other military commendations throughout my career. My tours of duty took me to Thailand, Japan, the Comoros Islands, Alaska, Texas, Georgia and The Pentagon (where my office was located at exactly the "ground zero" of 9/11--though I didn't start working there until 2006). In 2005, I joined the 3rd Infantry Division and deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The journal I kept during that year formed the blueprint for the novel which would later become known as "Fobbit."
I was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. I earned a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I now live in Butte, Montana with my wife. I'm working on a draft of my next novel, a screwball comedy about a stuntman in 1940s-era Hollywood.
Top Customer Reviews
Abrams work tackles many of the Iraq War's absurd contradictions, some of which I witnessed as an embedded journalist. My opinion, both as a veteran and objective journalist, is that Abrams accurately reflects the Iraq War's humor, bitterness and disarray - this is not simply a "war novel," but an "Iraq" novel.
His book represents this clear place and specific time, and I think that's why this story will be a lasting literary contribution. This is what it was, fiction or not. You'll laugh because it's funny; you should weep because it's true.
I'm not sure any previous US conflicts ever had something as surreal as the "FOBs" - the cities-within-cities populated by headquarters elements where much of the book's action takes place. The residents had important jobs to do, but there's no question that a year's deployment at a base where you could play basketball tournaments, watch big-screen movies and eat pecan pie every night would seem an odd switch from the violence and death happening right outside the well-protected gates.Read more ›
-for comic absurdity from the war in Iraq?
-for some bitter military humor?
-for edgy jabs at the fraud of our military intervention in the Middle East?
-for razor sharp critique of the bureaucratic operation?
-for sarcastic snipes at the facades of patriotism and honor?
-for witty war zone psychology?
-for honest moral-social dilemmas?
-for the real human drama and ugly pathos of war that are brought alive through an author's personal war experiences?
If you are indeed ready then reach no further than David Abrams' hilarious, satirizing, instructing, upsetting, disquieting, enraging, intelligent, poignant Fobbit.
Abrams' story is important to be told and now is the important time for it to be told.
FOBBIT cleverly contains allusions to CATCH-22, and just as Joseph Heller drew critics who at the time believed CATCH-22 to be a demoralizing piece of fiction that compromised the integrity of the US military, so might Abrams for this bitingly satirical but deeply affecting story of survival in a war zone during an absurdly tragic-comic war.
Abrams' FOBBIT, which hurls the reader into his own personal experiences while he served in Iraq as part of the U. S. Army's public affairs team, is much more than an anti-war screed. It is at once hilariously funny and sadly moving. Some stories, like this one, need to be told - not simply because they will entertain or enlighten the reader - but because they really happened!Read more ›
The spineless characters who populate this book will enrage and infuriate the reader as they scan the internet for engagement rings, eat Hostess Ding Dongs and look for clandestine places to fornicate as the real soldiers are dying horrible deaths from IEDs.
Second, the book succeeds at a purely entertainment level reminding me of a Christopher Guest mockumentary. The plot juxtaposes the agony of the real war outside the gates and the banality and cowardice of those bathing in the comforts within the compound.
Third, Fobbit is a morally necessary book that takes a critical look at war and the way politicians spin the war to make it palatable for American citizens. As such, Fobbit is a moral, anti-BS book and Fobbit fills the bill to the a T. One of its major themes is how public relations director Chance Gooding Jr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was described as funny and while it does have humorous moments, it's not a comedy. It look into the lives of several soldiers while they are deployed. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Southern_Reader
This is nothing like either 'M*A*S*H' or 'Catch-22', two other novels to which it is compared. It is also not humorous. Read morePublished 4 months ago by tayv
A really fun read told from a lot of interesting perspectives though ultimately the ending left me feeling a little let down. Read morePublished 6 months ago by D. Watt
In Vietnam the rear echelon types were called REMFs, a term of derision for those pounding typewriters, working mimeograph machines, and fearlessly performing assorted... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Billy Boy
This is truly a one-of-a-kind book, being a satire about the current war in Iraq. The writing is good, the comedy is authentic and original. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Katey Schultz
I was in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004 and I am not sure that this is fiction. Great book and it captures the insanity of the Middle East.
Trust me, it is not all fiction.
As a former veteran with combat experience, I see the folly and craziness of the characters depicted in this book at the time and place of the story. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Gregory Marcum