Little Green Men

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 1, 2010

Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley

Eleven people attended this meeting at the North Village library. Our topic was Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley. The book is a humorous novel about what happens when a conservative, bowtie-wearing television talk show host is abducted by aliens. Two of us had read Buckley before. Nine of us started the book, and all nine finished it.

Several of us loved the book. We laughed at all the humor about Washington DC and those who live there. The satirical approach to television, government, and UFOs just worked for us. This book made government conspiracies quite plausible. We loved the scenes where the protagonist visited a UFO convention in Austin. The theme song for the protagonist’s show, “Fanfare for a Self-Important Man”, delighted us. We loved Ample Ampere, the electrical company that sponsored his show, and their amusing commercials for products including the electric chair.

While some characters in the book were clearly based on real-world people, we were unclear on the model for the protagonist. Some of our group felt he was based on George Will, others supported Tucker Carlson, and a few felt he was based on William F. Buckley, the author’s father. We also appreciated that the main character’s initials were J.O.B., since he underwent a series of ups and downs reminiscent of a biblical figure.

One person had read the book when it was first published in 2000, and felt that it showed how dysfunctional Washington was back in the late 1990s. He thought the book was witty and well-done. He did not feel this was as good as the political humor of Terry Southern, who wrote Dr. Strangelove. He thought that the UFO element of the story was not well handled, and that people familiar with the UFO community would be disappointed in the book.

Some of us who enjoyed the book wished for more. Some us felt the overall story was thin, merely providing a framework to string a bunch of jokes together. And others wished the sf element of the story was more fully realized.

A couple of readers commented that this book simply did not work for them. One felt the book was boring, had little story, and no elements she found humorous. She plans to avoid the author’s work in the future. Another reader said the while the writing was decent, the story held no interest to him. Both of these readers said they enjoyed listening to our discussion more than reading the book.

After the meeting, many of us had a nice dinner at Fuddrucker’s.

–A.T. Campbell, III