Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Boomsday, by Christopher Buckley

So, a cynical blogger, a rather hapless senator and a Southern evangelist preacher walk into a bar...

Not really.

But Boomsday sometimes does feel like it's setting up for a punch line. Cassandra Devine, through an unfortunate series of events, finds herself, in her late twenties, working in D.C. for a PR firm. By night she pens the political blog Cassandra: Concerned Americans for Social Security Ammendment Now, Debt Reduction and Accountability. (This aspect of the book is somewhat unrealistic - that a fairly big-time political blogger would hold down a time intensive day job while relegating blog activity to the wee hours of the morning...please.) Cass rails against the fact that her generation will be paying to support lavish retirements of aging Baby Boomers by funding the Social Security system, the same system that will almost certainly be bankrupt by the time her generation will be ready to retire. She is looking to make a big, controversial statement in order to get people talking about the issue. With the help of Senator Randy Jepperson, she gets the Voluntary Transitioning bill put before Congress.

Voluntary Transitioning - her PR skills hard at work here to repackage elective suicide - calls for seniors to commit to removing themselves, at age 70, from the pool of those collecting retirement benefits. In exchange, they would be exempt from all estate taxes. Additional incentives for those agreeing to "transition" at age 65 include a 2-week, all expenses paid "farewell honeymoon." She doesn't think the bill has a snowball's chance in hell of passing - she repeatedly says, "It's a meta-issue." - but the idea is that it's drastic enough to get people to pay attention. Gee, this is what it would take to keep Social Security solvent? Maybe we'd better look into this...

Gideon Payne, big-wig evangelist preacher and founder of the Society for the Protection of Every Ribonucleic Molecule (SPERM), emerges as the figurehead of the Transitioning bill's opposition. Even as he sits atop his moral high horse, there is an ongoing mystery as to whether he offed his own mother when he was a young man. He's supposed to be a Billy Graham sort of fellow, I suppose.

Anyway, it's a pretty amusing read. Kind of Hiaasen-esque, but set in D.C. instead of South Florida. My only real complaint has to do with the pacing near the end of the book. It was kind of building, building, building, building, wrappedupinthreepagesthereyougokthxbye. Still fairly entertaining, overall.


MC Squared said...

Social Security: The nice thing we do for older people.

It's not like I'm going to be upset when it's not there for me, and I don't mind the 1% off my income that it costs me each year.

susan said...

Yeah, I got the sense the author was being hyperbolic for comedic effect.