Sunday, May 4, 2008


Not funny enough, absurd, but often in boring ways, Christopher Buckley's "Boomsday" is a political novel set against the retirement of the Baby Boomers and a crisis in Social Security. The characters are weak, but this is a plot-driven novel; it's about events in a certain milieu. It's all right, as these things go. At least, it would be all right if Buckley wasn't so sloppy.

You can't get a 1585 on your SATs; not only are scores in 10s, they're not even on a 1600 scale anymore. There's no "AP history;" there's European History, US History, World History, and Art History. You can't just delete things off the Internet. The Federal Reserve does not set the prime rate. There are two primaries in New Hampshire, one for each party (this mistake is more by implication, but it's egregious because it's a political novel). Ordinary citizens don't need a permit to film on the Mall in Washington D.C. (hello, First Amendment). "They impounded his computer and found that the cache of his Internet search engine..." Non sense.

There are just too many mistakes. This is not me being a nitpicker. I'm not looking for mistakes; they just jump out when I see them. Suspension of disbelief should not require an active effort to maintain. If you write about someone dropping the puck at the Indianapolis 500, I'm not a nit-picker, you're an idiot. Maybe some of those things are obscure, but I can't just turn off what I know. If you're going to use some real-world fact, you'd better do it right. If you're too lazy to do it right, just make something up. You can't have it both ways.




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