WRY MARTINIS by Christopher Buckley


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 Despite a few sparks of wit, this lightly humorous collection of occasional pieces misfires badly. Unlike many of his colleagues on the right, Buckley (Thank You for Smoking, 1994, etc.) does have a strong commitment to recycling. Witness this book, which seemingly contains almost every minor piece he's written in the last ten years, every sketch or scribble, no matter how irrelevant or outdated. At least half of these pieces (which first appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, Forbes FYI, and elsewhere) are past their expiration date, viz. pallid humoresques on the Bush-Clinton debates, Prince Charles and Lady Di, Haiti, Pat Robertson, Richard Darman, et al. Worse, Buckley's humor rarely rises above amiable cocktail-party banter. Even in his more ``timeless'' pieces, such as those on the problems with programming VCRs, the burdens of unwanted houseguests, and swampy Washington D.C. summers, his prose usually overruns his ideas. Like the Metaphysical poets, his style is to yoke two unlike subjects together and hope something will happen. So we have letters from O.J. Simpson's lawyers to the Unabomber soliciting his case and Oprah interviewing the pope on his latest book. When he is not shilling tirelessly for laughs, Buckley is a perfectly competent reporter as well as a graceful stylist (he used to write speeches for President Bush). But do we really need to read his interview with Ann Landers or his eulogy for his former boss, Malcolm Forbes, or his regrets about not serving in Vietnam? These journalistic efforts aren't substantial enough to require republication. These wry martinis make a good case for teetotaling. (Book-of- the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-45233-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


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