A Conversation with Christopher Buckley
Administered by Himself
So, what was the inspiration for your new novel, BOOMSDAY?
The bank that owns my house.
Oh. Well, but seriously
I suppose I tend to write about things that make me mad. And among the things that get my dander up is the governments serial fiscal irresponsibility in refusing to confront the inexorable math of Social Security.
Thats a mouthful. So you consider yourself, then, a social critic?
I consider myself a hack novelist with a mortgage. But also, a father of an 18 year old and a 14 year old who are going to spend a large chunk of their working lives paying off the debt incurred by my generation and the ones that went before. What happened to the concept of bequeathing our children a better world? Sorry, feeling a bit grumpy about all this. Really, the book is a laugh riot.
Is it difficult, finding the humor in Social Security reform?
You try it sometime.
No need to get snippy.
I suppose most of my books are elaborate bar bets. With Thank You For Smoking, the bet would have been: can you make a tobacco lobbyist sympathetic? With this its: can you make humor out of the governments incentivizing suicide in order to save Social Security. (I think that may be the first time that Ive ever typed the word incentivizing.)
This is your, what, seventh novel edited by Jonathan Karp?
Something like that. I consider him more than an editor. A collaborator. Not that he helped the Nazis, or anything, during World War II. I dont think he was even alive then. I totted up the emails I sent him while I was writing BOOMSDAY, most of which begin with How about if
. There are 264 in my Karp folder. I dont think I could do this without him. Wouldnt want to, anyway.
Is the main character Cassandra Devine based on anyone in particular?
Not really. Shes a 29 year-old female Washington blogger. (What an awful-sounding job description.) I suppose its risky for a 54 year-old male hack novelist to try to get inside the head of a 29 year-old woman. For some reason, most of my main characters tend to be women. I must ask my shrink about that.
Is it fun, writing humor?
Its fun typing the words The End. Its the 318 pages that come before that arent so fun.
Is it gratifying?
Im glad you asked that. As a matter of fact, the other day, I was being led to the car by a nice nurse after a surgical procedure. (OK, a colonoscopy. Whatever.) I was pretty woozy with Demerol, but I think I remember her saying, Are you the Christopher Buckley who wrote Little Green Men? I vaguely recalled having written a novel by that title, so I said, I think so. She said, I gave that book to my brother when he was recuperating from spinal surgery in the hospital and he laughed so hard that the doctors took the book away from him.
That is a nice story.
Ive asked Karp to put a sticker on the cover of BOOMSDAY saying: SO FUNNY ITS BANNED IN HOSPITALS! But he keeps saying hell get back to me on that. You know these publishers. Theyre so cheap.