Sunday, March 30, 2008


Absolutely not a cultural novel, 'Boomsday' by Christopher Buckley (author of 'Thank you for Smoking' which might have a similar focus), is an all-American, very funny in a wise-cracking sort of way novel about the machinations of government in the US. Though these could be the same machinations in the UK, especially in relation to party donors.

It's about a young woman who is annoyed about the huge social security bill for the baby boomers (of whom I am one) who will need to be supported by the under-30s from now and for a long time. Working in public relations, she has a pretty good idea on how to get people fired up, and starts, through her blog, a series of attacks on gated communities for the elderly. This snowballs, and snowballs, and through very close connections with a senator she develops a bill to introduce voluntary transitioning (ie suicide) for people aged seventy or over, in return for tax breaks. This gets everyone in a tizzy, and from here on in all hell breaks loose, with the churches, her estranged father, the president and all sorts of other people piling in, plotting and counterplotting against each other, blackmailing, promising and undoing promises and so on. A typical few months in US government.

The style takes a bit of getting used to, and some of the jokes are just a bit 'oh aren't we so clever to have thought of this one?'. It's very 2006 US; not subtle and not for everyone. The events are of the kind that you read about in the Guardian every day. Is it like 'West Wing'? I don't know, not having seen it. Like it's cover, the book is brash, bold, and a bit vulgar (but also typically American, without explicit sex). Would make a great airport book, though - and an easy read for a day spent sick in bed.

I hope the US citizenship knows, after West Wing and all the other shows, that this is how its government operates.


violainvilnius said...

Though of course it is 'cultural' in terms of the culture of American politics. Silly me - as a sociologist should know about these things.

But no, there's no classical music in this one.