D.A. Ball
June 03, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Cigarettes Are Sublime

Current Status
In Season
Richard Klein
Essays, Comic Novels

We gave it a D

Read Christopher Buckley’s new novel, Thank You For Smoking, in a designated area, because your guffaws will waft around like secondhand smoke, and possibly annoy readers suffering through Richard Klein’s interminable Cigarettes Are Sublime. William Buckley’s very funny son Christopher is a superb writer of politically incorrect satire: “I believe in cigarettes. I think we’re overpopulated,” and “Smoking is the nation’s leading cause of statistics.” Buckley writes so scathingly that some magazines won’t feature his book for fear of offending cigarette advertisers. On the other hand, the courage it takes to boost cigarettes doesn’t necessarily produce good writing. Klein’s Cigarettes Are Sublime calls smoking “a fully coded, rhetorically complex, narratively articulated discourse.” Okay, Klein is a professor (he teaches French at Cornell), but shame on Duke for allowing the kind of writing composition teachers routinely flunk: unsupported claims, nonlogic, and more puffery than a carton of Camels. There’s enough unfiltered hot air to make you quit reading. Sublime: D

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