Fobbit: War and Press Releases

FobbitI am writing today during a somewhat strange hail storm. It is raining ping pong balls outside! But enough about weather — let’s talk about war. WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Well, sometimes, good reading. I was really excited when I picked up Fobbit by David Abrams. A satire based on the Iraq War sounds pretty interesting right? Well, I didn’t love Fobbit. It made me chuckle at times but it wasn’t nearly as funny or dark as I wanted it to be. What’s meant to be mean and funny, seems to only come off as mean. All the characters suck. I can barely remember their names. There, I can be mean and not funny too.

Fobbit is based on Abram’s personal experience as a public affairs officers in the US Army during the Iraq War. Fobbit is a derogatory term for the paper pushing soldiers stationed in war zones but never see battle. They are safe in their Fobbit holes while braver soldiers get blown up. Members of the Public Affairs live it up in their air conditioned quarters, drafting press release after press release about dead soldiers.

But most of the story isn’t even about the horrors of writing wartime fluff. I would have enjoyed that more. In fact, I was hoping for something like Thank You For Smoking meets Apocalypse Now but that sounds difficult to pull off now that I say it out loud.

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No, most of the book is about the crazy antics of Fobbits who are bored out of their minds waiting to return to the US. There are moments of action but I found Fobbit unsatisfying as both war fiction and satire. With a war that seems to make little sense, I was hoping Fobbit would exploit that meaninglessness just a little more.

I’d like to use this as an excuse to show you more awesome photographs taken by Richard Mosse of Saddam Hussein’s abandoned palaces — which is where the Fobbits in this story were stationed.

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Taking Care of Business

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You’ll notice that Broken Penguins mainly reviews fiction and that’s because I love fiction. There’s nothing like burying yourself in someone else’s world and letting it consume you for the day. But I do sometimes make time for some business books.

Okay, sharing time: I work in PR and I love it. I’ve been working in this field for four years and I’ve already learned A LOT. But what’s fantastic about PR is that there’s no time to be bored — there’s always plenty more to learn. And hence, a lot of business reading.

So here’s what’s on my list:

BUS_brandwashedBrandwashed by Martin Lindstrom
If you are interested in marketing, branding or psychology, you must hear Martin Lindstrom speak. He does a lot of unique research into how people are influenced by brands and some of his findings are pretty shocking. He is a quirky, quirky man and that translates into fantastic presentations.

The Virtual Self by Nora Young
I received a copy of The Virtual Self after seeing Young speak at a Third Tuesday Event. Young looks at how we’re tracking and sharing our own behaviour online — and why we keep doing things like telling the world how many pounds we’ve lost and how many pages we’ve read.

BUS_spunkSpunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik
Writing gurus always point you to Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. While The Elements of Style focuses on fussy grammar and composition, Spunk and Bite is all about writing to captivate your audience. How teachable is this skill?

The Loyalty Leap by Bryan Pearson
Pearson is supposedly the guru of repeat customers. He looks at data, lots of it, and helps companies bring back happy customers. Hey, maybe he can even help me bring you back to Broken Penguins…

Photo credits: junryou-na-kokoro.deviantart.com

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