This is an interview that aired on NPR, September 11, with David Abrams, one of our Book Pregnant Panel faculty. The link to that piece appears at the end of this quote.
“…The tragic absurdity of Powers’ book is in sharp contrast to the comic absurdity in another Iraq book, this one about the little people who lived out the war in the comfort of Forward Operating Bases, or FOBs.
“They were Fobbits because at the core they were nothing but marshmallow,” writes David Abrams, author of Fobbit.
He continues: “They cowered like rabbits in their cubicles, busied themselves with PowerPoint briefings to avoid the hazards of Baghdad’s bombs, and steadfastly clung white-knuckled to their desks at Forward Operating Base Triumph.”
The funniest part about Abrams’ book is that he isn’t making it up. His fobbits live on “FOB Triumph,” a name that seems Orwellian. But it’s not so different from the name of the FOBs where Abrams worked in real life.
“FOB Triumph … that’s made up. But there are similarities to Camp Liberty and Camp Victory. I was on the Liberty-Victory complex,” he says.
No one was allowed to say those names with irony — certainly not in the Army Public Affairs shop where Abrams worked for 10 months in 2005. Abrams says there were plenty of Fobbits whose jobs trapped them on the base — who were required to stay back at the base as part of the war effort. But they at least felt bad about not being in combat — “Fobbit guilt.”
“You know, it’s not like I want to be out there in it myself, but at the same time you’ve got to think: Well, I’m sitting here at the desk, I’m comfortable, I’m in air conditioning, and they’re out there in those conditions. You know, it really creates some conflict inside you,” he says.
Fobbit may fall short of classics like Catch-22, but Abrams is finally breaking the taboo on making fun of the war — and the U.S. effort in Iraq, which has provided plenty of fuel for satire.
Tim O’Brien, a writer who served in the Vietnam War, said there are as many wars as there are soldiers who fought in them. These three books on the Iraq War are just the first look at what must be thousands of stories still to be told.”