book review: Thank You For Smoking, by Christopher Buckley

a rollicking ride through Washington lobbying, spin-meisters, kidnapping, corporate intrigue, despite a little floundering towards the end

I read this in about 24 hours (which is fast for me). Nick Naylor is the chief spokesman for the tobacco lobby. His boss wants him out, but after an impressive showing on Oprah, he becomes the darling of the lobby’s chairman of the board. He gets kidnapped and tortured by antismoking advocates. Corporate intrigue takes place.

This was a very fun, witty ride. Naylor is sympathetic, and he has a genuine friendship with her fellow Merchants of Death, the chief spokesman for firearms and the spokeswoman for alcohol. The satire of Hollywood, of the lobbying industry, of Washington spin, is all fun. A man next to me at baggage claim said, as I laughed out loud, That must be a great book! You haven’t put it down! He was right.

In the last quarter of the book, it starts to get even a little crazy for my generous suspension of disbelief, but I still couldn’t stop reading, and the ending is satisfying (even with a several-years-later epilogue;* it’s like watching 9-to-5 with Lily Tomlin all over again).

Note on content: Some language, some sexual content, some violence. Less language or violence (and a little more sex) than Gun, with Occasional Music (but not as good as that one either). Less of everything than the White Tiger.

* To include the several-years-late epilogue or not to? I remember finishing the Grapes of Wrath and DYING to know what happened to Joads down the road. Harry Potter has it. 9-to-5 (the film) had it. Thank You For Smoking has it. Lots of movies based on real life have it (Remember the Titans, Stand and Deliver, etc.). Gun, with Occasional Music sort of had it, but in a particularly creative way. I get the feeling that the best books don’t do it, but not everyone is aiming to be (or needs to be) the best book…

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