Christopher Buckley is a novelist, essayist, humorist, critic, magazine editor, and memoirist. His books have been translated into sixteen foreign languages. He worked as a merchant seaman and White House speechwriter. He has written for many newspapers and magazines and has lectured in more than seventy cities around the world. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.
Since the titles of so many books are mysterious or ironic, it is pleasant to come upon one that says exactly what it means. Nick Naylor is chief spokesperson for the Academy of Tobacco Studies and as such has the dubious honor of defending and promoting the rights of smokers at a time when they are accorded the same treatment lepers once were. Like most good romps, this one is sportive and whimsical on the surface, but it manages to let loose a roundhouse punch at the advertising industry and the vacuum at the heart of power. At one point, the joke wears a little thin and imminent tedium threatens, but thanks to the author's inventiveness, the novel's earlier zest is soon recovered, and the plot starts spinning merrily along once again. Buckley's prose is well behaved and his dialog brisk and lifelike. All in all, an amiable and worthwhile work from the author of the best-selling The Whitehouse Mess (Random, 1986) who is now an editor at Forbes FYI magazine.-- A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
``Nick Naylor had been called most things since becoming chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, but until now no one had actually compared him to Satan.'' So begins the adventures of this protagonist, a shamelessly slimy yuppie and PR flack par excellence for the tobacco industry. The story, such as it is, consists of Naylor's attempts to prop up his failing corporate star by expanding his defense of the evil weed. Working the airwaves, he engineers successful, hysterical appearances on Oprah and Larry King , after which he's kidnapped by anti-tobacco terrorists who attempt to murder him by plastering his body with nicotine patches. As usual, Buckley's humor is over the top, although he doesn't exactly choose tough targets (his previous novel, The White House Mess , tackled the decline and fall of the Reagan/Bush dynasty). But the blatant immorality of Big Tobacco inspires some wonderfully comic vehicles, such as the delightfully morbid M.O.D. (Merchants of Death) squad, a semi-secret weekly lunch club that consists of Naylor and fellow flacks for the NRA and the alcohol industry. The silly plot sometimes gets in the way of the funny stuff, and it's far more entertaining to watch Naylor try to maintain his fiefdom and satisfy his libido amid the madcap spin control. Buckley is a smoother, funnier and more refined heir apparent to Art Buchwald's throne, and this book cements his position as the best up-and-coming political satirist on the literary map. Author tour. (June)
"A savagely funny satirical farce. . . . produces moments that make
you laugh out loud at their inspired absurdity."
-The New York Times
"Buckley's caricatures of Washington politics, corporate power
plays, media spin control, Hollywood pretensions and the human
foibles of self-delusion and denial are appallingly right on the
-San Francisco Chronicle "Seriously funny . . . Forget apple pie. [Buckley's] novel is as American as pork barrels and public relations."
-The Atlanta Journal & Constitution "The superior goofball plot, raffish cast and zany sex scenes make this the funniest of Buckley's books."
-The New York Times Book Review