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Originally published Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 5:02 AM

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'Fobbit': spinning the war in Baghdad

David Abrams' novel "Fobbit" is a hilarious, sardonic and all-too-true sendup of the Iraq war. Abrams discusses his book with Woodinville author Karl Marlantes Thursday at Seattle's University Book Store.

Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

David Abrams

The author of "Fobbit" will discuss his book with Woodinville author Karl Marlantes, author of "What It Is Like To Go to War," at 7 p.m. Thursday Oct. 4 at the University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free (206-634-3400 or www.ubookstore.com).
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'Fobbit'

by David Abrams

Black Cat, 369 pp., $15

BOOK REVIEW |

The primary mission of a comic novel is to be funny. Mission accomplished. Even the title is funny. A Fobbit, according to the cover of David Abrams' new book, is a "U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Perjorative."

Staff Sgt. Chance Gooding Jr., who works in public affairs, is the lead Fobbit in an ensemble cast. Gooding pounds out news releases from his cubicle, which is comfortably situated in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. Gooding's boss, Lt. Col. Harkleroad, who is prone to spontaneous nosebleeds, reviews his work before sending it up the chain. While "sad news" and "tragic news" are acceptable content, "bad news" is not.

One of the funnier riffs in the book is an email exchange between brass and subordinates on whether to refer to suicide bombers and the like as "terrorists" or "insurgents." Because we are engaged in a war on terrorism, rather than a war on insurgency, terrorist wins out.

Gooding keeps a journal, writing down "all the sights, smells, and sounds of camp life." Author David Abrams, who served in Iraq in the same capacity as Gooding, kept a journal. His debut novel rings with well-observed experience and well-earned sardonic wit.

What was life like in Baghdad?

"A car bomb every day. Sometimes three on religious holidays."

Gen. George Patton said, "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." Wars have always had an absurd side, but never more so than now when the enemy believes murder and suicide leads to a reward of 72 virgins in paradise.

Abrams' book reinforced my confidence the West will triumph over radical Islam not just because of our technology, or our resources, or our freedom, but because of our superior sense of humor.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is the author of "The King of Methlehem."

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