The "Up Front" note in today's New York Times Book Review tells us this about Christopher Buckley, who enthusiastically reviews Tom Rachman's newspaper novel The Imperfectionists on the cover today:
Although Christopher Buckley’s most recent book, “Losing Mum and Pup,” is a memoir of his parents, William and Pat Buckley, he’s known primarily as a political satirist and the author of darkly comic novels like “The White House Mess,” “Thank You for Smoking,” “No Way to Treat a First Lady” and “Boomsday.”
I'm not so sure about that. This fortunate son's career has had a couple of high points (getting kicked off his father's magazine for endorsing Barack Obama over John McCain has certainly been the peak), but his mild novelistic satires tend to be safe as milk. They're genial and accessible, and that's exactly the problem. From H. L. Mencken to Paul Krassner, the greatest satirists tend to be angry misfits. Christopher Buckley is way too smooth for the job, and it shows in the resulting work.