Christopher Buckley’s latest novel, They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, is half brutal satire of Washington politics and half quirky/absurdist indie movie waiting to happen. And it’s even pretty funny.
As a basic litmus test for whether you’ll like this book, think about Thank You For Smoking. If you liked it, great, this is very similar (which makes a lot of sense, since Buckley wrote both books), and if you didn’t like it, great, you know not to waste your time reading this book.
Personally, I liked it.
I wasn’t an enormous fan—the unrelenting cynicism thing was tough for me (I really like loving the characters I’m reading about too much)—but I will give Buckley this, he is a Funny writer, and has a great grip on mining the plethora of little absurd moments in the mundane.
They Eat Puppies focuses on the machinations and misadventures of “Bird” McIntyre (a lobbyist by day and aspiring novelist by night) and Angel Temple (an explosive neocon) as they attempt to stoke American hatred for the Chinese—all as part of a larger plan to get approval for a new top-secret weapons system, of course. The book also features Chinese bureaucrats, Equestrians, Civil War re-enactors, and the Dalai Lama plays a pretty pivotal minor role in this book (mostly off-page, but still), and he’s probably my favorite person to ever wear saffron and scarlet (other than Avatar Aang and Tenzin). So that’s always fun.
And I must say, while They Eat Puppies didn’t really grab me, Buckley writes one heck of a clean plot—I wouldn’t call it the most inventive plot ever, but Buckley takes all the lose ends and finds a way to re-work them at the end. In the final pages, Buckley coaxes it all together nicely, and pleasantly surprised me.
I know there are people out there who need to read this book—people who will laugh heartily and put it in a special (undesignated, but obvious) “Favorite Books” section of their shelves/nightstand/crates/whatever. I wasn’t one of those people, but if you suspect that you might be, check out this book.
At worst you’ll read a funny and well-written political satire.