Christopher Buckley and the oddities of truth
So perhaps it would be most accurate to say that truth is at least as strange as fiction.
When the Monitor reviewed Christopher Buckley's political satire "Boomsday" last year, our reviewer, Cristin Lupsa, began his review by quoting Tom Wolfe.
"Tom Wolfe recently told a group of journalists that politics has become so odd that fiction faces a real challenge," wrote Lupsa. "How can an author make stuff up when the news is almost always a step ahead?"
The news in Buckley's own life is indeed a step ahead. Buckley, the son of famed conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr., this week lost his job as a columnist at the National Review, the magazine his father started, over a blog he posted on the Daily Beast endorsing Barack Obama.
(The blog's title: "Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama.)
Buckley offered to resign when, as he put it, "It became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands." The magazine accepted his resignation.
Today, in a followup post on the Daily Beast, Buckley says his original post has prompted a "tsunami" of response.
Response at the Daily Beast has been running 7-to-1 in favor of his post, says Buckley. But at the National Review Online, according to Buckley, "That’s been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against.".
"In fact," he adds, "the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless."
Yet despite the charges of patricide being hurled at Buckley (literally), he points out that, "My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith.... He liked to mix it up."
It's hard to know whether all of this sounds more like a chapter from "Boomsday" or a muddled retelling of a Greek tragedy. (Maybe something like... Oedipus??)
At any rate, either way, it seems clear that in the US, once every four autumns, we go through a brief period where we have less need of fiction. We have instead presidential politics to astonish us – and that may be as much as any of us can handle.