cover image Wry Martinis

Wry Martinis

Christopher Buckley. Random House (NY), $3.99 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45233-1

The author of Thank You for Smoking has put together more than 65 bits and pieces of journeyman work (much of it very amusing indeed) from sources ranging from the New Yorker to the New York Times to Forbes to the Portsmith Abbey Alumni magazine. Touched on, usually quite briefly, are subjects such as mad cow disease (could the animals be used to counteract illegal emigration from Mexico?), drunken Yale undergraduates (a growth industry, it seems), presidential debates (which, he observes, would be improved if all involved had three martinis before things got under way) and the Unabomber (the next client of O.J.'s dream team?). There are also accounts of hoaxes successfully perpetrated by Buckley, including the well-publicized ""rumor"" that an impoverished Russia plans to auction off Lenin's embalmed corpse. The section called ""Homage to Tom Clancy"" is typical of the book's variety. It begins with a none-too-serious profile of the author written soon after the success of The Hunt for Red October, followed by a parody of Clancy as a U.S. senator, then a savage review of Debt of Honor (Clancy is ""the James Fenimore Cooper of his day, which is to say the most successful bad writer of his generation""), followed by an exchange of actual faxes between an unamused Clancy and a puckish Buckley. As a comic, Buckley frequently suffers from the Saturday Night Live syndrome: his ideas are often funnier than his punch lines. But readers hell-bent on amusing themselves will find laughs enough here. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)