9780517372821 / 0517372827

Wry Martinis


Publisher:Random House Value Publishing



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About the book:

Wry Martinis is the perfect title for this intoxicating volume--though Christopher Buckley pretends he had a hard time coming up with it. But as his fans know, effortless superiority is Buckley's main m.o. In this collection of 20 years' of occasional pieces for such magazines as the New Yorker and the New Republic, he ranges from deadpan parody to devastating takes on all manner of American preoccupations, from celebrity to fly fishing to the Times bestseller list. (No. 2 in Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous: "Becoming God, by Beepah Doolik. Self-deification in a single afternoon.") Usually all it takes is a single sentence to set Buckley off. In 1994, when USA Today announced the expected launch of a 24-hour conservative cable network, he happily riffed on morning, afternoon, and nighttime programming. Suffice it to say that between 9 and 11 a.m., Phyllis! With Phyllis Schafly will hold the screen. That day's episode? "Pacific tuna fishermen explain how dolphins commit suicide by hurling themselves into the nets; also: how to tell if your son is queer." (Please head straight to page 12 for further listings.)

Not that our provocateur doesn't have his serious side, too. It shows up in his explorations of his own military envy, asthma, and cluster headaches, but also in some unlikely zones--including a sympathetic profile of Eppie Lederer, better known as agony aunt Ann Landers. (When Eppie tells Buckley that her husband left her, "an eyebrow arches, the right dimple deepens like a Florida sinkhole.") And then there is "My Own Private Sunday School," two pages on talking to his 6-year-old daughter about belief and death. Of course, even here the mischief-maker shines through, since the beginner's Bible Buckley buys is sorely lacking in verbal panache: "The chapter about the Roman discovering Jesus' empty tomb is titled 'Surprise!'--which is sort of cute, even if it does make a pretty crucial New Testament event sound a bit like a panel from Where's Waldo?" Buckley is ever on the hunt for our foibles and endless absurdities; and despite his seemingly straight-up hilarity, his method requires the utmost skill, imagination, and--oddly enough--affection. --Kerry Fried

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