November 15th, 2000

Little Green Men

by Olaf DeWinter • in Books

little green menJohn O. Banion is an overly serious host of a Sunday morning news show. In the first seven pages of this novel, Banion destroys the President of the United States. Nathan Scrubbs, part of “the only kept secret in the United States government,” is about to destroy Banion by staging his alien abduction, and from there on, my friends, you’re in for a ride that makes anal probing by aliens seem boring and banal. The best chapters come just before the end, when three million people descend on Washington to demand Congressional hearings on alien abductions and government cover-up, while their leader finds out he had never been alien-probed.

On the first read I thought this book was entertaining. By the second read I was convinced that it was art. Despite its insane plot, this novel is a frightfully sane and sober look at Washington’s underbelly — a world of self-important journalists and pundits, carnivorous lawyers, truth-creating media artists, lazy senators, and absolutely no aliens. If you think that aliens landed at Roswell, get ready for some sanitizing stuff; if you think that people who believe in aliens are weird, you haven’t seen anything yet; if you are really tired of all the hype about aliens, carry this book around to help annihilate conspiracy theorists of all colors — green included.

Christopher Buckley takes the reader in with the first sentence and does not let go until the last page. This book will probably break records as the fastest read ever. You will not want to put it down. Buckley writes like a sober Kerouac. Hold on to your britches, it’s fast, it’s intelligent, it’s not funny, it’s hilarious. Buckley, the author of Thank You for Smoking, delivers another genial, satiric view of America, this time attacking the real decision makers: journalists and political pundits. His prose is full of beautiful images that come at you with the speed of a bullet train. “The man’s busier than a one-legged Cajun in an ass-kicking contest” is an example of one of the better lines in this book. Buckley sets a new standard for American novels that will be difficult to follow.

Throughout the novel I did wonder how Buckley would end something so beautiful and strange, and there was the book’s only real weakness: the end is disappointingly saccharine. There are some other moments of literary hesitation, but Buckley’s genius more than makes up for them with lines that make the reader sit up and take notice.

Little Green Men by Christopher Taylor Buckley. Published by Random House, 1999. 300 pages.
CDN$34.95 US$24.95 (hardcover)

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