I’ve previously covered Christopher Buckley’s book from more than a decade ago, Thank You for Smoking (which was recently turned into a major motion picture that more or less defanged it). I was fascinated with Buckley, wondering how the son of a (in)famous conservative would turn out (just look at Ron Reagan, Jr.). As I mentioned then, Christopher falls somewhere in the middle.
Boomsday is neither the greatest narrative or the most cutting satire you’ll ever read. Let me get that out of the way before I go any further. That being said, it was still funny and enjoyable. If that is a dealbreaker for you, you can stop reading now: this isn’t a trick.
Boomsday is a farsical little story about Big Government. Specifically, the monstrosity called Social Security. Set in the near future, the book centers around the life of one Cass Devine, a late-20s blogger with a massive (impossible) following who incites under-30s to commit violence against retiring Boomers who are now living on the labor of the young. Other characters include Terry Tucker, a only-some-what evil media consultant who is Cass’ boss and best friend (think a lovable Karl Rove) and Randolph Jepperson, an obvious play on the somewhat-serious-but-mostly-a-goof-off-and-philanderer-at-heart JFK, a slimy evangelical named Gideon with a predilection, it appears, for wine and women, and an increasingly flustered President and Chief of Staff.
In the often-zany goings on of a Christopher Buckley novel, there are plenty of one-off jabs at current political peccadilloes, including the aforementioned sidelong glances at historical figures or current archetypes. The story itself requires a sort of incredulity in order to enjoy it—that is to say, the story doesn’t work without the context of a humorous novel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that it requires pointing out.
I still can’t put my finger on Buckley’s political alignment: as a satirist, he seems to subscribe more to the “all politics is a circus” school of political philosophy. Nothing in Washington escapes ridicule, basically. Say what you want about the ramifications of such a viewpoint, but I guarantee that we’ve all felt that way at some time or another.
Buckley also likes ambiguous endings, but this one in particular felt like he had no clear idea how to wrap it up. It’s as though the last few chapters went missing somewhere in the process, and it ends just before the denoument. Regardless, Boomsday is fun, and it makes you think (a little), so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try, especially if this sort of political satire is your thing.