Book Report: Boomsday

During a layover in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, waiting to return from Boston, I passed some time in the bookstore. I usually pass my layover time here. It is not a fancy bookstore, but it does have a good selection of good, contemporary works, and here is where I picked up my first Jose Saramango book, Balthasar and Blimunda. I read this book in 2004, on my way to Dubrovnik, where I finished reading the book and left it behind for the next visitor to the guest house. Saramango is now one of my favorite writers.

This time, I found Christopher Buckley's "Boomsday" (2007). I read in the writer's notes that he finished writing in July 2006, so two years before I picked it up. The book lay on a table of current fiction. I often find that the voice and story of current fiction can be too pseudo-spiritual and moralistic for me. For example, I liked "Little Children" but it is a haunting critique, and although it might be dead-on and maybe even needed ... can't we do more than read about how messed up other people are and how much better we are? It is too contemporary, caught in a moment in US society/culture/politics/economy, without enough connection to it. Can't we do more than talk about how immoral and spoiled people are? What is interesting is the human experience, and
that book seemed, at times, limited to criticism of how people live and struggle and give in, without the humanity of it, just the positioning of good and bad.

And here is what is great about "Boomsday." The satire is the form of criticism. It is about the system. And it is hilarious, especially on page 288. The characters human and complex enough. They are no better or worse than any one else. So, go read it.


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