Book review: Brilliant satirist finds humor in pandemic-era nonsense | Arts

By DREW GALLAGHER FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

As some readers of this page know, I have done some video book reviews. These readers also know that my 14-year-old daughter is my producer and adds her own “charm” to the proceedings. It was while thinking of her that I expressed some reservations about the idea of ​​reviewing “Has Everyone Seen My Toes? by Christopher Buckley. I love Buckley, but I shudder to think what my producer could do with this title.

Those minor caveats aside, “Has anyone seen my toes?” is cheerfulness when we need it most from one of our great satirists. The elderly protagonist is a screenwriter who lives with his second wife, Peaches, in South Carolina. The pandemic took a heavy toll on both her ability to write and her bathroom scale. He, like many of us, had high expectations for what he hoped to accomplish during pandemic isolation, but he increasingly finds the most solace in Mudshakes at Hippo King.

“How many Mudshakes can he order without getting disgusted?” He calculates. One for now, here in the parking lot. One for the ride home. Two to put in the freezer. Themistocles will want one. He has cravings 24/7. How much is this? But wait, Atalanta are here for the weekend and they will want one. (She moved to Atlanta, causing address confusion. Her mother still sends her mail to Atalanta, Georgia.)”

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The pandemic has clouded our minds, and Buckley captures those moments of inanity with comedic brilliance. The mundane has become a daily challenge as we ponder our milkshake quota for the day and our mortality. And when we contemplate mortality, it inevitably leads to considering our heritage. How will our obituary read in The Free Lance–Star?

For the ‘Has Anyone Seen My Toes’ protagonist, his legacy is tied to a movie he wrote called ‘Swamp Foxes’. The film, which he first envisioned as a tribute to Francis Marion (hero of the American Revolution known as Swamp Fox), changed drastically the moment it hit the screen and the celebration of the Marion’s cunning was overshadowed by buxom prostitutes and earned an NC-17 rating. The screenwriter knew his vision was compromised when Kim Kardashian showed up on set.

As the title character attempts to write a new script about a German U-boat capturing FDR in South Carolina during World War II, he also finds himself embroiled in the local county coroner’s election. Once upon a time, these themes might have seemed ridiculous and disparate. Buckley reminds us that the ridiculous of yesteryear is now a new and constant companion. Laugh if and when you can or just wiggle your toes if you can see them.

Drew Gallagher is a freelance writer and videobook reviewer at Spotsylvania.

Drew Gallagher is a freelance writer and videobook reviewer at Spotsylvania.