bookrev: Boomsday by Christopher Buckley
A welcome break from the barrage of convention and election news, Boomsday is satire at its finest, featuring not only a headline grabbing idea on how to salvage the social security system, but a great satire of a presidential primary, debate and election. Nothing is sacred, as it should be in satire.
Cassandra Devine is a young member of Generation Whatever (in the near future). By day, she works as a PR spin doctor for her boss Terry (who studied under Nick Naylor of “Thank You for Smoking” fame); by night, she blogs away at CASSANDRA, urging those of her generation to not take the depletion of social security by the baby boomers. When Cassandra suggests “Transitioning” (voluntary self-termination at age 70, complete with tax breaks!) and shows how the math would extend the near depleted funding of social security, politicians engage and the showdown to the campaign begins.
Cass is joined with Senator Randy Jepperson, who lost a leg in Bosnia while driving then Corporal Cassandra Cohane around a minefield. Together they tangle with President Peacham, the Reverend Gideon Payne, the media and anyone else who will listen. Randy takes on “Transitioning” as his platform; the President, armed with Cassandra’s estranged father Frank Cohane (he spent her Yale college money on a start-up, which finally made him billions after Cassandra was denied entry after the Bosnia mine field) as his finance manager, takes on everyone (armed with a poor economy and wars in more than five trouble spots); and the Reverend, who also owns a chain of extended living centers that take only the life savings of people they know are going to die soon (courtesy of software written by Frank Cohane) is wrestling with his own late-blooming passion.
The ensuing campaign, debates and election, though a small part of the book, captures many of the absurdities Americans are forced to endure every four years.
The movie version of “Thank You for Smoking” was laugh-out-loud funny, and this book of Buckley’s was as well. Though it did not get to my funny bone as frequently as a Christopher Moore tome, it certainly ranks in the top five (scenes such as the burning of the SSN cards and the f-bomb debate are priceless). I’ll search for an read Mr. Buckley’s other satire as well.