A writer writes a book in lonely, secret seclusion (at least I do--others may spend their over-caffeinated days sitting at the local coffee shop bogarting prime wi-fi territory, tapping noisy keyboards and pausing every three sentences to read their work aloud to unwilling captive audiences at the next table). We may show some pages to our lovers, our parents, or our friends--all of whom will say nice things about those words we've spent months and years toiling over, wrestling from our imagination. But we expect our mother to say our novel about a female dogwalker-turned-CIA-assassin is the Greatest Book She's Ever Read, right? What happens when we ask complete strangers to read our book and, if they're so moved, to say a few words on our behalf for publicity purposes?
What happens is, you find the world is full of kind, unselfish, generous people who are willing to risk their reputations on your behalf by publicly praising your debut novel. Suddenly, you're filled with gallons of self-confidence and joy.
At least, that's how I feel about those writers who've had such nice things to say about Fobbit, the Iraq War comedy I spent seven years writing in early-morning isolation with nothing but a cup of coffee and a stream of classical music from iTunes to keep me company. I can never thank the following authors enough for giving Fobbit such nice blurbs. They've made me as happy as this gentleman from the Iraqi Army was back in 2005:
"Fobbit, an Iraq-war comedy, is that rarest of good things: the book you least expect, and most want. It is everything that terrible conflict was not: beautifully planned and perfectly executed; funny and smart and lyrical; a triumph. David Abrams has taken up Joe Heller's mantle--or not mantle; more like his Groucho nose and his whoopee cushion--and so his debut marks the arrival of a massive talent."
--Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
"Stories in and around war rely on irony to convey this unnatural human behavior; but in this appalling comedy the indifference of participants not actually being shot at or blown up--their headlong pursuit of folly--raises the immorality of war to white heat. This delightful, readable, believable and useful book made me furious!"
--Thomas McGuane, author of Driving on the Rim
"Wavy Gravy once said, 'Without a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny.' Fobbit is hilarious, but the subject matter is deadly serious. The protagonist is a 'fobbit,' the term used by the grunts for the non-combatants ensconced inside well-protected forward operating bases, oases of junk food, air-conditioning, and all the comforts of home. But throughout the book, the fobbits are shadowed by the presence of the infantry who live in horrible conditions and are the smelly, dirty, haggard reminders that there is a real war going on just outside the gates. This is a remarkable book because it was written by a man who served as a member of an army public relations team in Iraq, i.e. a fobbit himself. It is the rare writer--indeed, the rare person--who can step outside of himself and see with cold clarity the humor and pathos of his situation and then bring the reader to the same understanding. David Abrams is such a writer."
--Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
"With a gimlet eye and humor as dry as a desert sandstorm, Abrams captures the absurdist angle of the Iraq war. A direct counterpoint to hero-worshipping 'shoot 'em up' combat narratives, Fobbit proves that wit is as lethal a weapon as any Army-issue M16 or .50 cal."
---Lily Burana, author of I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles
"The first major work of fiction about America's war for Iraq."
--Aaron Gwyn, author of The World Beneath
"Fobbit is fast, razor sharp, and seven kinds of hilarious. Thank you, Mr. Abrams, for the much needed salve--it feels good to finally laugh about Iraq. Fobbit deserves a place alongside Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22 as one of our great comic novels about the absurdity of war."
--Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
"A darkly funny chronicle of the Iraq War, Fobbit explores the modern military machine with searing resolve. Contemporary warfare is often as absurd as it is ugly, a truth that gives Fobbit and its unforgettable cast of characters both depth and nuance. This is a book that speaks to the power of fiction--a war story too profane and profound for the newspapers and the nightly news. Want to think, laugh and cry, all at the same time? Read this novel."
--Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War
"Fobbit should be required reading for America. Hilarious and tragic, it’s as if Louis C.K. and Lewis Black provided commentary to The Hurt Locker. I read the novel mesmerized, and found myself thinking 'Please tell me none of this is autobiographical' on just about every page. There will be innumerable comparisons to Catch-22, but Fobbit, believe me, stands on its own. Thank you, David Abrams, for your vision, heart, and daring."
--George Singleton, author of Why Dogs Chase Cars and Work Shirts for Madmen
"Fobbit is a searing view of life on a Forward Operating Base in Iraq and the constant contradictions faced by U.S. soldiers who are told to kick down a door one minute and win ‘hearts and minds’ the next. Funny and evocative, with great glimpses of soldier-speak and deployment day-to-day life, each laugh in the novel is accompanied with a troubling insight into the different types of battles that our soldiers encounter on a non-traditional battlefield."
--Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
(For more information on Fobbit, you can visit this website, which has a synopsis and an excerpt.)