Booklist is the latest publishing industry trade magazine to weigh in on Fobbit. I still can't put into adequate words how these early, positive reviews are making me feel. Like a kid stunned to be receiving Christmas gifts in July, for one. Like a writer finally seeing payoff for all those isolated nights down in his basement, for another.
One of the things I appreciate about this Booklist review is the mention of General Bright's toenail clippings. In their own way, those little shavings are some of the funniest, but most-overlooked, characters in the novel. It's nice that somebody noticed.
In west Baghdad, while the infantry fights the war on terrorism, a team of public-affairs soldiers play computer solitaire and clip toenails in the relative safety of the Forward Operating Base (FOB), waiting for the latest death reports. This is the story of the Fobbits, as they're perjoratively called, and, in particular, Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding Jr., who types up the latest suicide bombing into something palatable for Americans digesting his words over breakfast. It's the story of Lieutenant Colonel Vic Duret, knee-deep in the heat, stench, and gore of combat instead of working on nation rebuilding, who hates those Fobbits in their cushy cubicles avoiding combat. It's the story of incompetent Captain Abe Shrinkle, who has something to prove and becomes a burr in the boot of the U.S. Army. First-novelist Abrams punches up the grittiness of war with the dark, cynical humor that comes from living it (he served as a Fobbit in Iraq), crafting images that will haunt readers long after they pry their grip from the book. Think M*A*S*H in Iraq.