Saturday, September 15, 2012

More Vanity Links: Fobbit, New Tour Stops, "Numb," The Rumpus, NPR, Other People, and the Most Excellentest Giveaway in the History of The Quivering Pen

Here's the latest herd of ME-centered links, lassoed and corralled from all around the web.  Plus, scroll down for one of the biggest and best giveaways I've ever offered here at the blog.

1.  Curtis Edmonds at Bookreporter very kindly reviewed Fobbit.  The fact that he mentions one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day, is just like gravy on the cake:
      For a civilian reader--and FOBBIT deserves a wide non-military audience--the world of FOB Triumph may be a bit like going through the looking glass. However, the central metaphor for the book isn't inspired by Lewis Carroll. Instead, it is inspired, at least in part, by a certain light 1993 romantic comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. This might be somewhat of a surprise. The novel is set in the midst of the occupation of Iraq by American forces, and features bloodshed, mayhem, at least one war crime, and omnipresent sand, heat and privation. On the surface, the relationship between the movie and the novel sounds like it might not be the best pairing.
      The film, of course, is Groundhog Day, and its central premise is that Phil Connors, Murray's character, is trapped into reliving the same day over and over again. The characters in David Abrams' debut novel identify with the concept, if not the specific reality, of the movie. The daily round for the Fobbits involves press releases and PowerPoint presentations, punctuated by news of explosions, mortar rounds, and sudden violent death. The Fobbits are in the war but not of the war, and the sameness, repetition and constant grinding of the gears of war seem endless and hopeless.
Click here to read the rest of the review.

2.  Since I last told you about the Fobbit book tour, we've added two more stops: University Bookstore in Seattle on October 4 at 7 pm (I'll be appearing with Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn) and Brazos Bookstore in Houston on October 26 at 7 pm.

3.  Kyle Minor interviewed me for The Rumpus.  We talked about what I imagined combat would be like, the evolution of wars, media on the battlefield, writing an unsanitary novel, and working on Saddam Hussein's former hunting preserve which was once stocked with wild game he and his guests would "hunt" on the weekends.

4.  All this week, 5 Chapters has been giving me the Charles Dickens treatment by serialising one of my short stories, "Numb."  It's all about a sensitive young husband dealing with a family crisis on the eve of his departure for basic training.  Here are links to the installments:

5.  NPR's Morning Edition interviewed me for a recent segment called "Stories From a New Generation of Soldiers."  I was honored to be on there with Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds) and Brian Castner (The Long Walk).

6.  NPR was great, but what really turned my crank and got me fired up was my recent interview with Brad Listi for his Other People podcast.  I'm an unabashed fanboy of the show and have listened to all 100-plus episodes, so when I learned I'd be one of Listi's "other people," hot butterflies of happiness took flight in my chest.  Okay, maybe that's over the top; maybe I should be more bashed.  Is that a word, "bashed"?  Perhaps "bashful" would be more fitting.  But honestly, when you lurve something as much as I lurve Other People, then it's hard to clamp down the enthusiasm.  Brad is less of an interviewer than he is a conversationalist.  Each episode, he engages his subjects in casual, yet probing, talk about their craft, their home life or, in the case with recent guest Pauls Toutonghi, their favorite classical music.  Topics range far and wide during the hour-long show as Brad follows the trail of talk wherever it leads.  I think I've only fast-forwarded through two out of the 104 episodes--and even then it wasn't Brad's fault, he just had a relatively dull subject on the other end of the microphone.  You might find my interview dull and you certainly have my permission to fast-forward, but here I am in all my glory:

7.  In conjunction with the Other People podcast, I'm offering Quivering Pen readers the chance to win a year's membership in The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.  TNB (where I've also made recent appearances) is Brad Listi's other literary website and it, along with The Millions and The Rumpus, is one of my go-to sites for All Things Bookish on the Internetz.  Each month, the Nervous Breakdown Book Club sends its members one book, hand-picked by TNB staff.  Past titles have included Room by Emma Donoghue, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, and Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan.  So here's the deal: I am giving away one TNB Book Club membership to a Quivering Pen reader (about a $120 value).  For one year, you'll have a book delivered to your front door (or back door, depending on where you get your mail) and you can participate in all the author chats hosted by the book club.  Here's how to enter:
1.  Email me at with "I'm having a Nervous Breakdown" in the subject line (it has to be those exact words so I can keep track of the entries in the flood of emails I've been getting lately).
2.  Include your name and mailing address in the body of the email.
3.  The contest closes at midnight on Sept. 20 and I'll announce the winner in the regular Friday Freebie post the next morning.
4.  Only one entry per person.
5.  The contest is only open to those who live in the U.S. (sorry, but I can't afford the international book club rate).


  1. I agree with you about Other People! I had come across a mention of your book somewhere before I listened to the podcast, but the show gave me a much better sense of the book and you as the author. I'm a huge fan of Other People, too. I can certainly see why it would be an author's dream to be on the show--it's my dream!

    Not sure if you are kept informed of every review, but I see your book is to be reviewed in the Sept. 24 Minneapolis Star Tribune.

  2. Rachael,

    Everything you might assume about Brad from listening to his shows is true--he's generous, smart, and easy-going. Though I was a little anxious about the interview (I really don't talk as fast as I did in the podcast), Brad instantly set me at ease.

    And thanks for the heads up about the Minneapolis Star Tribune review.