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Boomsday, by Christopher Buckley & Janeane Garofalo (Narrator)



The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Oh wait, that's the wrong generation and the wrong story. This story is about the "Whatever Generation" and their very real concern that they will spend their lifetimes paying for the retirement benefits of the Baby Boomers who will be starting to retire and collect social security on Boomsday. Cassandra Devine works in public relations by day, helping clients put a positive spin on questionable actions. At night she writes a blog inciting her fellow Generation Whatevers to rise up and resist government efforts to defend a failing social security system. Poised to enter Yale, she finds that her father has taken all her college money, and she must enlist in the military if she wants an education. Thinking that her acceptance to Yale is a dream come true, she finds that it's the first of a series of nightmares that take her from an actual mine field in Bosnia to the more hazardous mine field of Washington politics. When a determined Senator who is running for the presidency hears of her suggestion that older Americans should voluntarily terminate their lives at age 70 in order to save social security, he decides to try to win the younger vote by building his campaign around her idea of "transitioning." This is met by outrage from the current administration as well as from the clergy and from older citizens.

The situations that arise are hilarious. What starts as a "modest proposal" mushrooms into an issue that is given serious consideration. Cassandra both delights and infuriates the people who work with and against her. Among them are the smitten senator, a Bible thumping pro-life minister, her boss and mentor, Terry, and her seemingly conscienceless father. Buckley's satire informs and entertains as he takes Cassandra and friends in and out of official and unofficial government meetings. Janeane Garofalo's brilliant narration incorporates a number of accents both male and female, and all are consistent and believable. In addition to Cassandra and the Washington politicians, she portrays a southern preacher, Russian hookers and their pimps, and a Vatican monsignor.

Except for the preacher's admonishment for PR person Cassandra, "Go and spin no more," the dialogue is clever and engaging. The seriousness of the problem of the budget deficit is enhanced rather than diminished by the humorous way in which Buckley exposes it through the plot of this story. While the characters seem more like caricatures than real people, that's perfect for this satirical work. (It's interesting that one of the characters says he wanted to be an artist but found that his only talent was as a caricaturist.) This is a worthwhile, informative, amusing and entertaining book. Beneath the hilarious dialogue and zany plot, there's a serious message. So maybe my mother-in-law really was right when she warned, "Many a true thing, said in a joke."

Ruth Mormon

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