No Way to Treat a First Lady PDF/EPUB ☆ to Treat a

No Way to Treat a First Lady A fun thing to read especially for those of us who despise most lawyers politicians and media personalities Buckley makes skillful fun out of making these characters in his book about as unlikable as possible It dealt with sex uite a bit but we Americans are becoming used to having that as a part of our presidential politics Not recommended for those who would rather not read something slightly off color But it really is humorous throughout and though not gripping the plot did keep my attention THE GREAT COMPLETIST CHALLENGE In which I revisit older authors and attempt to read every book they ever wroteCurrently in the challenge Martin Amis | Isaac Asimov RobotEmpireFoundation | Margaret Atwood | JG Ballard | Christopher Buckley | Philip K Dick | Daphne Du Maurier | Michel Houellebec | John Irving | Kazuo Ishiguro | Shirley Jackson | Bernard Malamud | VS Naipaul | Tim Powers | Philip Roth | John Updike | Kurt VonnegutBetween his uproariously dark literary debut 1994's lobbyist satire Thank You For Smoking and his new string of historically accurate Medieval satires such as 2015's The Relic Master the purportedly true story of the con artists who faked the Shroud of Turin I've become a big fan of political journalist turned comedic author Christopher Buckley which is why I added him to the list of writers I'm tackling as part of The Great Completist Challenge What I'm learning though is that like a lot of politically focused satirists when Buckley isn't at the absolute top of his game his exaggeration of archetypes can get obvious and plodding really fast ruining any enjoyment you might've gotten from the wacky hijinx of the plot itselfI first noticed this in his second novel the UFO panic satire Little Green Men which I eventually forced myself to finish against my will just to say that I had; but the problem gets exponentially worse in his third book No Way to Treat a First Lady so much so that I barely got even 50 pages into it before uitting it in bored disgust Written during the ClintonLewinsky scandal of the late 1990s and published a year after Clinton left office Buckley obviously got the inspiration for it from that situation it's the story of a strong independent first lady who increasingly disgusted with her husband's philandering whips an antiue bedpan at his head one night during a fight accidentally kills him then is put on trial by her opportunistic political opponents for assassinating a President eventually hiring a flamboyant Johnny Cochran type celebrity attorney to defend herIt sounds like a great premise definitely the consistently strongest part of Buckley's writing skills; but the actual manuscript is so ham fisted and stereotype beholden that one can barely get through it so dedicated Buckley is to pushing these cardboard cutouts around as they increasingly get in the way of the plot he's trying to unspool I will absolutely continue to make my way through his bibliography next on the list is 2004's Florence of Arabia in which a low level State Department flunky suddenly finds herself with a chance to introduce American style liberal feminism to atar but certainly I'll be approaching all the rest of his books with low expectations pleased when they turn out to be better than I hoped for but accepting when they invariably don't You're best off approaching this definition of hit and miss writer yourself as wellChristopher Buckley books now reviewed Thank You For Smoking | The Relic Master | Little Green Men Christopher Buckley is not so much a novelist as a free ranging satirist looking for targets In Thank You for Smoking it was big tobacco and earnest reformers; in God Is My Broker it was business and religion; and in No Way to Treat a First Lady it's the entire legal profession not to mention the Washington establishment The novel opens with the President of the United States returning to the conjugal bed after an illicit Lincoln Bedroom romp with the Streisandesue Babette Van Anka His wife the long suffering Beth McMann promptly clocks him with a Paul Revere spittoon Several hours later he dies Lady Bethmac as the First Lady is immediately dubbed by the media is put on trial and the resulting media circus gives Buckley lots of opportunity for nicely observed skewerings of legal culture Judge Dutch creaked forward in his chair This is the source of the aura of judges they have bigger chairs than anyone else That and the fact that they can sentence people to sit in electrified ones It's all about chairs He gets in some neat neologisms a lawyer performs a credibilobotomy on a witness and sends up the pretensions of law TV at a roundtable discussion the guest from Harvard Law is invited to provide gravitas and to shift uneasily in his seat when the other guests said something provocative Buckley's Trial of the Millennium is so far fetched that it seems entirely possible Claire Dederer Just a pass time really Basically a beach book or if you're in DC a bar book If a woman had written it they'd call it chick lit Dick lit I guess My review published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002First lady might be a murdererReviewed by Steve KettmannSunday October 13 2002No Way to Treat a First Lady By Christopher Buckley RANDOM HOUSE; 288 PAGES; 2495 Skewering Washington political culture with hilarious over the top novels has always been a tough job but it got a lot tougher during our long national obsession with Bill Clinton and the sordid details of his White House sex life How could anyone top this stuff? What could be ludicrous? No one would have blamed Christopher Buckley author of the satires The White House Mess and Thank You for Smoking for throwing his hands in the air and giving up on this kind of book forever Instead No Way to Treat a First Lady succeeds despite seeming somehow redundant Here's the setup A long suffering first lady incensed at her husband's latest infidelity explodes in anger and heaves a historic Paul Revere spittoon at him The next morning the president is found dead and first lady Elizabeth MacMann is charged with his murder During the ensuing Trial of the Millennium Lady Beth Mac as the tabloids call her swallows any reservations she might have and enlists the services of the nation's top trial lawyer Boyce Shameless Baylor Shameless happens to be an old flame from law school one Beth unceremoniously dumped when she met the dashing ambitious White House bound Ken MacMann Baylor takes the case with the idea of losing on purpose reputation be damned just to inflict a little long deferred revenge But that idea uickly goes out the window along with any reluctance to pick up where they left off 25 years earlier Rich as the setup is it almost doesn't matter Buckley is at his best when he's having delirious fun with the details along the way and like any great satirist he tends to be funnier when he's also making a serious point Buckley editor of Forbes FYI magazine taps a deep reservoir of insights on Washington and its media culture When Shameless motivated by selflessness for a change tampers with the jury the FBI agents arrest him during his appearance on a TV morning program The director of the FBI denied that the timing was intended to humiliate Boyce Baylor Buckley writes The agents were simply following procedure Of course no one believed this much less the director of the FBI but the media was so grateful to him for providing them with such a spectacular moment that they didn't press Describing the general in charge of the ultrasecret and ultrapowerful National Security Agency he writes Roscoe Faruant was as most NSA chiefs tended to be a former military person He looked it trim peach fuzz hair glasses eyes beady with the big big secrets He looked like a man who wouldn't tell God something on the grounds that God was not cleared to know Or how about the new president? President Harold Farkley was in the middle of a meeting with various princes of a Middle Eastern kingdom he writes read Saudi Arabia He hoped to persuade them to increase their oil production in time to lower prices at the gas pump before the upcoming presidential election He knew that in return they would ask him to sell them advanced US fighter jets ostensibly to protect their oil but really to annoy the Israelis Thus the intractable American position in the Middle East pleading with Arabs for oil while providing their enemy with the latest weapons Another day at the White House The book has many laughs especially the wicked sport Buckley makes of Babette Van Anka the film star paramour of the late president who identifies herself on the witness stand under oath as an an activist in international affairs because of all the valuable work she has done on behalf of Middle East peace Buckley's problem though is that laughing at presidential erections just isn't that fun It doesn't transport us to some fresh new place where the perspective is a little clear and absurdities are a little tolerable for having been exposed No even two years after the Clinton era chuckling over red faced presidential huffing and puffing or presidential dousing of the presidential privates in a glass of ice water feels a little like sitting in the studio audience and following Jay Leno through one tired routine The big sign says laugh and laugh we do but who can blame us for turning the page right away and getting on to the next bits? That's not to knock Buckley But here's hoping he's already hard at work on one or follow up volumes say something skewering the cartoonish style of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld If anyone can do it Buckley can Steve Kettmann is the editor of Game Time an anthology of Roger Angell's New Yorker baseball writing coming out in Aprilhttpsfgatecomcgi binarticlecgiThis article appeared on page RV 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle As the political atmosphere seems to get worse and worse by the day it feels almost uaint to recall the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Bill and Hillary Bob Dole W Al Gore Novelist Christopher Buckley does an excellent job conjuring up that era in his 2002 novel No Way to Treat a First Lady In the novel First Lady Elizabeth Tyler MacMann wakes up to find a dead president next to her in bed The evening before the couple had uarreled over the President’s late night visit to the Lincoln Bedroom where he had an assignation with singer and movie star Babette Van Anka After uestioning the First Lady is arrested for the assassination of her late husband No Way to Treat a First Lady leads us through the “Trial of the Millennium” that inevitably ensues The First Lady has entrusted one of the most famous defense attorneys in the country Boyce “Shameless” Baylor to defend her Awkward backstory Boyce was engaged to Beth in law school but she broke it off when she met the future President Boyce has cycled through four marriages the latest one lasting all of six months As Boyce says “We were blissfully happy the first two months” p40 Boyce’s current flame is Perri Pettengill who hosts a legal talk show called Hard Gavel Perri is known for wearing very tight sweaters She’s become so famous that “Tom Wolfe had mentioned her in an essay calling her ‘the Lemon Tort’” p14 I won’t spoil any of the plot but Buckley does an excellent job of winding this improbable case through its many twists and turns Buckley is especially adept and handling the back and forth of the courtroom scenes You could make the argument that there’s no one to really root for in the novel but once Buckley compared Beth to Natalie Wood she instantly had my sympathy And in my head I had cast Alec Baldwin as Boyce Baylor so I found pretty much anything Baylor said to be uite hilarious There are many humorous lines sprinkled throughout No Way to Treat a First Lady The press’ nickname for Beth was “Lady Bethmac” and Buckley gets off a great Macbeth pun by naming a Secret Service agent Woody Birnam My other favorite lines from the book include“Hypocrisy is a prerogative of the press but must under no circumstances be tolerated in politicians” p24“Sometimes the American Dream like God works in mysterious ways” p113 I also laughed heartily at Boyce’s list of Baby Boomer accomplishments “Disco junk bonds silicone implants colorized movies the whole concept of stress as a philosophical justification for self indulgence” p133 Fans of Buckley’s other Washington DC satires should note that John O Banion the lead character in Little Green Men briefly appears as does Nick Naylor the unscrupulous lobbyist from Thank You for Smoking Naylor has taken a job as a publicist for Babette Van Anka a position that is and fraught with danger as the novel progresses Buckley relentlessly skewers the ridiculousness of the press throughout the book There are also many opportunities for the skewering of the legal profession and one of my favorite uotes was this one “There are few spectacles pathetic than a roomful of otherwise responsible people trying to suirm out of a civic duty enshrined in Magna Carta as one of the signal boons of democracy On the other hand who in his right mind wants to serve on a jury?” p66 As someone who has served on a jury I can identify with that sentiment If you’re looking for an escape from the current political climate you’ll enjoy No Way to Treat a First Lady This was hilarious until Shameless became a little too besotted with the former First Lady I still laughed a lot at the shenanigans but not as much as the first half I expected it to be boring but that it was decidedly notWeirdly this world has both Hillary Clinton and Lady Bethmac It also has both O J Simpson and a J J Bronco who is clearly meant to be O J Fun When you’re the First Lady and charged with murder to whom do you turn? In the case of Beth MacMann you call up your law school sparring partner Boyce Baylor now a sleazy but successful celebrity attorney whom you last saw when you jilted him for the man who’d become your husband When sparks still fly as you work together to unravel the President’s death is there any doubt that eventually you’ll find yourself fighting not just for your life but also for a second chance at love?I picked this up at my grandmother’s suggestion earlier this year and was pleased to have done so The story pulls you along uickly the surroundings are peppered with my familiar DC scenery and if the characters aren’t always likable they do seem realistic You end up rooting for Beth and Boyce to solve things uickly and to sort out their various entanglements Plus the secondary characters which include Babette Van Anka the president’s paramour and a former B grade singeractress are laugh out loud worthyWant to read a book that epitomizes the ’90s that combines the media circuses of the OJ trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal? This is the tale for youBuckley also wrote Thank You for Smoking a hilarious parody of DC lobbyists which I saw on film a few years back I generally like Buckley's books but he's now hit or miss with me NWTFL is mostly a miss While the cynical parody of the judicial system is entertaining enough the characters are repulsive enough to hold the story at arm's length And as for the resolution a great disappointment Read it for light nonsense with a chuckle or two Or read my first and still favorite Boomsday


About the Author: Christopher Buckley

See this thread for information He is the author of twelve books most of them national bestsellers They include The White House Mess Wet Work Thank You For Smoking God Is My Broker Little Green Men No Way To Treat a First Lady Florence of Arabia Boomsday and Supreme Courtship Mr Buckley has contributed over 60 comic essays to The New Yorker magazine His journalism satire and criticism has been widely published—in The New York Times Wall Street Journal Washington Post New Republic Washington Monthly Vanity Fair Vogue Esuire and other publications He is the recipient of the 2002 Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence In 2004 he was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor


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