Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
Publication: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 4th edition (February 14, 2006), Paperback, 288 pages / ISBN 0812976525
Find @ Amazon or IndieBound
Read: August 2009
Thank You For Smoking feels like a very 90’s book. Not just because it’s set in the 90’s, but just because the uber-yuppie seems like such a 80’s/90’s cliche. It’s like how American Psycho was full of uber-yuppies (and, er, death)– that whole money-money-money and screw everyone else mentality. Some books, though they may have been written seventy years ago, still seem very fresh and new, where as some other books, er, don’t. Unfortunately, Thank You For Smoking felt more like the latter kind of book.
Summary from Indiebound:
Nobody blows smoke like Nick Naylor. He’s a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies-in other words, a flack for cigarette companies, paid to promote their product on talk and news shows. The problem? He’s so good at his job, so effortlessly unethical, that he’s become a target for both anti-tobacco terrorists and for the FBI. In a country where half the people want to outlaw pleasure and the other want to sell you a disease, what will become of the original Puff Daddy?
Anyway, since it’s a parody of all those uber-yuppie things, Thank You For Smoking is by turns hilarious and horrifying. It’s hilarious because the whole thing is just over the top, and it’s horrifying because there are no doubt some people who did (or still do) think like the uber-yuppies in TYFS think. By the end I was tired from laughing but I was also somewhat shocked at how horrible people can be.
Satires don’t necessarily mean relatable characters, and unfortunately that holds true here. I was really interested in seeing how Nick was going to pull off his plot and I did root for him to win, but I didn’t like him as a person. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to like him, though– it’s really hard to like uber-yuppies because they’re so slimy even when they’re trying to do good things.
I did enjoy reading Thank You For Smoking! But it feels so dated that it was hard to get into completely, and I’m not sure I would have finished it if I hadn’t already seen the movie and wanted to see how it differed from the book. But it was funny, and an interesting look at mid-90’s yuppies (and how people thought of them), and I think some of the morality issues are valid even today. If you liked the movie, you’ll probably like the book!