From: Stig Agermose <email@example.com> Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 05:09:51 GMT Fwd Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 10:57:24 -0400 Subject: Buckley Sighting Reported Source: The Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/output/show/clear21.htm Stig *** Buckley sighting reported April 21, 1999 BY BILL ZWECKER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST While Christopher Buckley calls himself a "UFO agnostic," the author admits he is totally fascinated by the phenomenon of extraterrestial life. "Simply because it is such a big thing in this country," he says. "It's huge." Buckley, who has snared both critical and popular acclaim over the past half-dozen years--thanks to such satires as The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking and Wry Martinis--is calling from Minneapolis, having just "survived one heck of a nasty traffic jam." The subject at hand? Anything that strikes his fancy. First up, of course, is his latest book--Little Green Men (Random House, $24.95). Combine that title with the author's delayed call (due to that traffic snafu) and one wonders if there was any interference from, well, little green men. A gentle teasing about being temporarily abducted by aliens revs up Buckley's razor-sharp wit. "No. Actually, I was in the middle of a very enjoyable probe," he said, making a not-so-subtle reference to the physical examination of "alien" abductees in Little Green Men. "But being the professional I am, I looked at my watch--which, of course, had stopped--giving me my first clue, and made me realize I was late for our chat." Chatting is clearly an avocation Buckley enjoys. Of course, being the only son of conservative icon and political pundit William F. Buckley Jr., he is presumed to have discovered the art of lively and engaging conversation at an early age. Conversation is easy. Buckley loves to jump around, but his range of topics always seems to tie together in a flow of language that makes the listener laugh often, imagine easily and stop and think about serious implications now and then, too. First of all, Buckley explains the sheer magnitude of "the belief system we've created" regarding UFO phenomenon made it a subject he couldn't wait to tackle. "After all, think about it. The 50th anniversary of [alleged UFO sightings in Roswell, N.M.] made the cover of Time ... " Throw in Buckley's penchant to tweak the Washington Beltway establishment, and Little Green Men was off and running. The book juxtaposes the presumed behavior of aliens with D.C.'s power pundits--satirically attesting to how much the two groups have in common. Underlying the whole story is the possibility that the entire UFO thing is one big government hoax. Those inflated federal defense budgets and "Star Wars" programs have to be justified somehow in this post-Cold War world, don't they? Once he knew he was going to write a book about aliens and media decisionmakers, Buckley immediately knew the character around whom he would spin his tale--a strait-laced Washington Sunday morning talk show king dubbed John Oliver Banion. "I just became obsessed with the idea of abducting George Will and probing him," said Buckley. "I hasten to say, I'm a big fan of his ... he has one of the finest minds working today, but as a figure he does lend himself to a certain amount of caricature." Yet even readers of Little Green Men not privy to Buckley's revelation in this interview would likely catch the Will influence on the Banion character. "The key is that line [early in the book] about Banion being perpetually on the verge of smiling while never actually giving into the impulse," said Buckley. "Doesn't that just tell you it's George Will?" Throughout the book, Buckley also uses a number of footnotes--obviously designed for comic relief. Claudia Schiffer is footnoted as "Highly desirable German model." Buckley chuckles when he says, "It's maybe the only time she's been footnoted in contemporary literature." Asked whether he's also implying that Schiffer should only be a footnote in our contemporary culture, Buckley laughs, but keeps mum. When it comes to his work ethic, the author sheepishly admits to being more disciplined than he'd like one to think. "But I don't know that I'd want to be a full-time novelist. It's kind of fun to go from one job [as managing editor of Forbes' FYI magazine] to the other. ... Frankly, it's prudent for most novelists to have a day job." Buckley pauses and then shares a thought about one of his favorite authors, Honore de Balzac. "He used to make himself a couple of pots of coffee and start writing at something like midnight and write for 18 hours--until he was spent." Buckley also likes to share a "great line Tom Wolfe had about [the prolific] Balzac. ... Wolfe says, 'The reason he was able to [produce so much] was that no time-saving devices existed' " then. Buckley is a bit cynical when it comes to Hollywood. "New Line owns [this book], they optioned it, but then they also optioned the last one. Actually I have three of my books in development. I've learned that is code for, 'Your book will never become a movie.' " For Little Green Men, Buckley does not mind fantasizing about who he would like to see in the Banion role. "We'd need someone like George [Will], only younger. I could see Tom Hanks doing it, because I can see him play stuffy, but then losing it when he thinks he's been abducted by aliens and surrounded by all these loons. "Of course, knowing how Hollywood works, you watch. I expect to get a call one day when they tell me, 'We're so excited. We just came from the casting meeting, and Chris Rock is really pumped about the role.' "
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