October 31st, 2016


Book #56: Fobbit by David Abrams

A "fobbit" is Army slang for a soldier who never or rarely leaves the Foward Operating Base FOB), and this book revolves around troops stationed in Iraq and opens with the main characters attempting to stop a suicide bomber.

This doesn't sound like a funny subject matter for a book, but this novel takes a very flippant and satirical tone, providing a large amount of humour, mostly from the cynicism of the soldiers that the story is about.

The one thing I noticed was that David Abrams' writing was clearly influenced by Joseph Heller and his novel, Catch-22, mostly through the tone that it is written in and the obvious digs at bureaucratic pencil-pushers. Catch-22 is itself referenced a couple of times in the text, and Abrams acknowledges Heller as one of his influences at the end of the book. A lot of the satire involves characters trying to ensure that the military has a good public image, mostly by restricting what they can tell the press, and there is one chapter that is all about a debate over whether they can use the term, "terrorist", which starts off with them attempting to use a different term, before settling on "terrorist" again. The most obvious satire involving bureaucracy comes later in the book, following a shocking incident that I will not spoil here.

The narrative style felt a bit like George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire titles, mostly because of all the chapters being told from a different point of view, and each character comes across as sympathetic and likeable. Although told mainly in the third person, it does cut sometimes to first-person narrative, usually in the form of e-mails sent from the characters to their families.

I didn't really know what to expect from this book, aside from that it was set during the Iraq conflict; however, I was glad I read it, mostly for a few unexpected plot developments; the narrative was mostly slow-moving, so wasn't too difficult to follow.

Next book: On Beauty by Zadie Smith