Your Montana Public Radio
Thu August 15, 2013
David Abrams' Novel Compared to 'M.A.S.H.' and 'Catch-22
During this program, TWQ producer Chérie Newman talks with David Abrams about his novel Fobbit.
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, 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 people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like an office job. 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 a lot 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. Of all the fobbits stationed at Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph, Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding is the fobbitiest. His M-16 is collecting dust, he reads Dickens and Cervantes instead of watching NASCAR with the grunts, and the only piece of Army intelligence he really shows an interest in is the mess hall menu. Gooding works in the base’s public affairs office, furiously tapping out press releases that put a positive slant on the latest roadside bombing or strategic blunder before CNN can break the real story. Another soldier who would spend every day at the FOB if he could is Captain Abe Shrinkle, but unfortunately for him he’s a front-line officer, in charge of a platoon of troops. Abe trembles at any encounter with the enemy and hoards hundreds of care packages, brimming over with baby wipes, foot powder, and erotic letters from bored housewives. When Shrinkle makes a series of ill-judged tactical decisions, he ends up in front of his commanding officers, and Gooding has his work cut out trying to make everything smell like roses--and that’s just the start of the bad news.
The music in this program was written and performed by John Floridis.
David Abrams’ short stories have appeared in Esquire , Narrative , The Literarian , Connecticut Review , The Greensboro Review , The Missouri Review , The North Dakota Review and other literary quarterlies. He regularly blogs about the literary life at The Quivering Pen .
Abrams retired in 2008 after a 20-year career in the active-duty Army as a journalist. He was named the Department of Defense's Military Journalist of the Year in 1994 and received several other military commendations throughout his career. His tours of duty took him to Thailand, Japan, Africa, Alaska, Texas, Georgia and The Pentagon. In 2005, he joined the 3rd Infantry Division and deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The journal he kept during that year formed the blueprint for the novel which would later become known as Fobbit.
David Abrams was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. He earned a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He now lives in Butte, Montana with his wife.
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