The title refers to the supposed culinary propensities of the Chinese, but as this novel makes clear, it’s said with more than a twist of irony.
Defense lobbyist Walter “Bird” McIntyre is not having a good day, for his big push for aerospace contractor Groepping-Sprunt to secure a multi-billion dollar contract for drones the size of jumbo jets has fallen through. He retires to his modest home, which he’s dubbed the Military Industrial Duplex, to plot a new direction for his life. Fortuitously, he quickly links up with Angel Templeton, a sexy, frighteningly unsentimental and ultraconservative pundit—so conservative she’s named her son Barry Goldwater Templeton—who has a wacko plan to embarrass the Chinese by claiming their secret service is planning to assassinate the Dalai Lama. Blindsided by the false media campaign, the Chinese are caught by surprise but need to deal with the crisis, artificially induced though it may be. McIntyre has to balance both domestic and political troubles when his wife, Myndi, is named to the United States equestrian team that’s scheduled to have a meet in China, one that might be canceled owing to the newest Sino-American conflict. And things get really complicated when, predictably, Bird and Angel begin an affair—and the Dalai Lama develops pheochromocytoma, and then dies. Buckley handles all of these strange machinations with a breezy style and loves mixing the fictional with the real—for example, by having Angel Templeton engage in a mano a mano debate on Chris Matthews’ Hardball.
A lively and politically spirited read.