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Bookmarks Issue: 
37-Nov-Dec-2008
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A-Supreme CourtshipChristopher Buckley, the son of the late conservative commentator William F. Buckley, is well known for his Washington satires, which include Thank You for Smoking and Florence of Arabia.

The Story: When President Donald P. Vanderdamp’s attempts to fill a Supreme Court vacancy are thwarted by his nemesis Senator Dexter Mitchell, the president fights back by nominating a popular television judge named Pepper Cartwright (think a sexy Judge Judy). Senator Mitchell can’t stop the nomination, and Cartwright is elevated to the bench. In the aftermath of this defeat, Senator Mitchell resigns from the Senate to play the role of the president in a show called POTUS, a conservative person’s West Wing, and becomes so popular that he launches his own candidacy for the presidency. Ultimately, Mitchell’s candidacy leads to a showdown à la Bush v. Gore—with the outcome depending on the vote of the new Justice Cartwright.
Twelve. 285 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 0446579823

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"The result, as in his other Washington comedies, is bipartisan giggles delivered with practiced wit. … [T]he author has not lost his knack for playing serious situations for laughs." Carole Goldberg

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"[O]nce again [Buckley] delivers serious insights along with antics. … At a time of high political absurdity, Buckley remains our sharpest guide to the capital, and a more serious one than we may suppose." Blake Wilson

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"In Mr. Buckley’s capable hands, what starts as a simple send-up of our political mores develops into a rich tale of our media-centric culture." Brian Carney

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"While the insight isn’t exactly original, Buckley has some serious fun with his very-close-to-real-life Supreme Court. … You’ll be belly-laughing through Buckley’s byzantine plot." Lisa Zeidner

Denver Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Unfortunately, a number of subplots muddy the water, and they are carried by people the reader cares about much less. … The plot lines move the story forward, but lack much of the bite of the novel’s earlier pages." Robin Vidimos

Los Angeles Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Satire requires the discipline to pull back from the temptation to deliver just one more bit. … Any of the tangled plot lines could work better if Buckley didn’t hustle through them like an Olympic hurdler." Patt Morrison

New York Times 2 of 5 Stars
"[Buckley] usually writes satirically, while his new book is a broad farce. … Mr. Buckley’s usual verbal agility is not much in evidence." Janet Maslin

Rocky Mountain News 2 of 5 Stars
"[Buckley] blows a rare chance to lampoon a national institution that often draws more fire than the White House and Congress combined. … Had the author simply aimed his poison pen at the vital and hotly debated issues the court considers, and the sheer weight that comes to bear on its cast’s collective shoulders, instead of phoning this one in, he might have delivered a far more memorable addition to his work." Clayton Moore

Critical Summary

Sometimes, the real-life actions of politicians and celebrities are so absurd it seems that satirists like Christopher Buckley must struggle to stay one step ahead of the headlines. In Buckley’s newest novel, Hollywood and Washington overlap (reminding some reviewers of Senator Fred Thompson’s White House bid and television career), and the vote of a single Supreme Court justice decides a presidential election (drawing inevitable comparisons to Bush v. Gore). The novel pleased most critics, who found Buckley in top form. A few, however, were disappointed in what they felt to be one-dimensional, lampooned characters and a complete lack of subtlety. Still, even if the novel’s broad humor is not everyone’s cup of tea, there’s plenty to laugh at in Supreme Courtship.