Harvill Secker: U.K.
FOBBIT \’fä-bit\, noun. Definition: A U.S. soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.
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 most of the senior staff is 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.
Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding is the most fobbit-y of all the fobbits. He works for the Army Press Office, located in one of Saddam’s former palaces, and spends his days tapping out press releases to try to turn the latest army disaster into something the American public can read about while eating their breakfast cereal. Another soldier who would spend every day at the FOB if he could is Captain Abe Shrinkle, but unfortunately for him, he’s in charge of a platoon of troops. Shrinkle hoards hundreds of care packages that he orders online in false names – he has enough baby-wipes, Twinkies, foot powder, and erotic letters from bored housewives to last him a lifetime – and trembles at any encounter with the enemy. 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.
Darkly humorous and based on the author's own experiences in Iraq, FOBBIT is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.
(Available online: Prologue and Chapter One; a note from the author on how he came to write this novel.)