BOOMSDAY By Christopher Buckley (Twelve/H.B. Fenn), 317 pages, $31.99 cloth. Rating: NN
In this satire of American political culture by Christopher Buckley, best known as the author of Thank You For Smoking, 30-somethings seek their revenge against privileged baby boomers.
Too bad the satire's so broad, there's barely a believable moment in it.
The story centres around Cassandra Devine, whose dad is wealthy but stupid enough to invest the funds designated for her college tuition in his sure-to-fail dot-com.
That means she's got to go into the army in order to go to school, and when she graduates she's still furious.
Working as a publicity consultant alongside randy member of Congress Randolph Jepperson and spin doctor Terry Tucker, she concocts a campaign to woo the youth vote. Her plan? Give baby boomers financial incentives to kill themselves before they're 75, thus ensuring Social Security's solvency.
Buckley can be really funny, and there are a few laugh-out-loud moments here - notably those involving repressed fundamentalist pol Gideon Payne - but he has a habit of stating the obvious. Terry's remark that the line dividing absurdity and reality in America is disappearing typifies Buckley's tendency to articulate his perspective rather than show us events that support it.
Thank You For Smoking works because every word rings true. Tobacco companies do have spin doctors who skew logic and science in huge campaigns to sell the killer weed. If you look at these companies' true-life track record, Thank You For Smoking, as ludicrous as it is, is also terribly real.
Boomsday is not. Boomers are notorious for wanting to live forever (botox is not their favourite drug for nothing), and a few financial perks won't get them to commit suicide voluntarily.
A satire doesn't necessarily have to survive a reality check, but please don't let it be too dumb.