Thank You for Smoking

Thank You for Smoking

by Christopher Buckley


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812976526
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/14/2006
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 318,942
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Christopher Buckley is a novelist, essayist, humorist, critic, magazine editor, and memoirist. His books have been translated into sixteen foreign languages. He worked as a merchant seaman and White House speechwriter. He has written for many newspapers and magazines and has lectured in more than seventy cities around the world. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.

Read an Excerpt

There was a thick stack of WHILE YOU WERE OUTS when he got back to the Academy’s office in one of the more interesting buildings on K Street, hollowed out in the middle with a ten-story atrium with balconies dripping with ivy. The overall effect was that of an inside-out corporate Hanging Gardens of Babylon. A huge neo-deco-classical fountain on the ground floor provided a continuous and soothing flow of splashing white noise. The Academy of Tobacco Studies occupied the top three floors. As a senior vice president for communications at ATS, or “the Academy” as BR insisted it be called by staff, Nick was entitled to an outside corner office, but he chose an interior corner office because he liked the sound of running water. Also, he could leave his door open and the smoke would waft out into the atrium. Even smokers care about proper ventilation.
He flipped through the stack of pink slips waiting for him at the receptionist’s stand. “CBS needs react to SG’s call for ban on billboard ads.” ABC, NBC, CNN, etc., etc., they all wanted the same, except for USA Today, which needed a react to tomorrow’s story in The New England Journal of Medicine announcing medical science’s conclusion that smoking also leads to something called Buerger’s disease, a circulatory ailment that requires having all your extremities amputated. Just once, Nick thought, it would be nice to get back to the office to something other than blame for ghastly new health problems.
“Your mother called,” said Maureen, the receptionist, handing him one last slip. “Good morning,” she said chirpily into her headset, exhaling a stream of smoke. She began to cough. No dainty little throat-clearer, either, but a deep, pulmonary bulldozer. “Academy of”—hargg—“Tobacco”—kuhhh—“Studies.”
Nick wondered if having a receptionist who couldn’t get through “hello” without a broncospasm was a plus.
He liked Maureen. He wondered if he should tell her not to cough if BR walked by. Enough heads had rolled in the last six months. Murad IV was in charge now.
Back in his office, Nick took off his new Paul Stuart sports jacket and hung it on the back of the door. One advantage to the change in Academy leadership was the new dress code. One of the first things BR had done had been to call in all the smokesmen—that is, the Academy’s PR people, the ones who went in front of the cameras—and told them he didn’t want them looking like a bunch of K Street dorks. Part of tobacco’s problem, he said, was that the sex had gone out of it. He wanted them, he said, to look like the people in the fashion ads, and not the ones for JC Penney’s Presidents’ Day sale. Then he gave them each a five-thousand-dollar clothing allowance. Everyone walked out of the meeting thinking, What a great boss! Half of them got back to their desks to find memos saying they’d been fired.
Nick looked at his desk and frowned. It was very annoying. He was not an anal person, he could cope with a certain amount of clutter, but he did not like being the depository for other people’s clutter. He had explained this to Jeannette, and she had said, in that earnest way of hers, that she completely understood, and yet she continued to use his desk as a compost heap. The problem was that though Jeannette was technically under Nick in communications, BR had brought her with him from Allied Vending and they obviously had this rapport. The odd thing was how she acted as if Nick were her real boss, with rights of high, middle, and low justice over her.
She had dumped five piles of EPA reports on secondhand smoke on his desk, all of them marked URGENT. Nick collected knives. She had carefully placed his leather-sheathed Masai pigsticker on top of one of the piles. Was this insolence masquerading as neatness?
Gazelle, his secretary, buzzed to say that BR had left word he wanted to see him as soon as he got back from Clean Lungs. Nick decided he would not report to BR immediately. He would make a few calls and then go and make his report to BR. There. He felt much better, indeed swollen with independence.
“BR said soon as you got back, Nick,” Gazelle buzzed him a few moments later, as if reading his thoughts. Gazelle, a pretty black single mother in her early thirties, was very bossy with Nick, for Nick, having been largely raised in a household dominated by a black housekeeper of the old school, was powerless before the remonstrations of black women.
“Yes, Gazelle,” he said tartly, even this stretching the limits of his ability to protest. Nick knew what was going on in Gazelle’s intuitive head: she knew that Jeannette had her beady eyes on his job tide, and that her own job depended on Nick’s keeping his.
Still, he would not be ruled by his secretary. He had had a harrowing morning and he would take his time. The silver-framed picture of Joey, age twelve, looked up at him. It used to face the couch opposite his desk, until one day when a woman reporter from American Health magazine—now there was an interview likely to result in favorable publicity; yet you had to grant the bastards the interview or they’d just say that the tobacco lobby had refused to speak to them—spotted it and said pleasantly, “Oh, is that your son?” Nick beamed like any proud dad and said yes, whereupon she hit him with the follow-up, “And how does he feel about your efforts to promote smoking among underage children?” Ever since, Joey’s picture had faced in, away from the couch.
Nick had given some thought to the psy-decor of his office. Above his desk was a quote in large type that said, “Smoking is the nation’s leading cause of statistics.” He’d heard it from one of the lawyers at Smoot, Hawking, the Omaha law firm that handled most of the tobacco liability cases brought by people who had chain-smoked all their lives and now that they were dying of lung cancer felt that they were entitled to compensation.
Above the couch were the originals of two old cigarette magazine ads from the forties and fifties. The first showed an old-fashioned doctor, the kind who used to make house calls and even drive through snowdrifts to deliver babies. He was smilingly offering up a pack of Luckies like it was a pack of lifesaving erythromycin. “20,679* Physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating.’” The asterisk indicated that an actual accounting firm had actually counted them. How much easier it had been when medical science was on their side.
The second ad demonstrated how Camels helped you to digest your Thanksgiving dinner, course by course. “Off to a good start—with hot spiced tomato soup. And then—for digestion’s sake—smoke a Camel right after the soup.” You were then supposed to smoke another before your second helping of turkey. Why? Because “Camels ease tension. Speed up the flow of digestive fluids. Increase alkalinity.” Then it was another before the Waldorf salad. Another after the Waldorf salad. “This double pause clears the palate—and sets the stage for dessert.” Then one with the plum pudding—“for the final touch of comfort and good cheer.” It amounted to five, and that was just during dinner. Once coffee was served, you were urged to take out that pack and really go to town. “For digestion’s sake.”
BR, on his one slumming expedition to Nick’s office so far, had stared at it as if trying to make up his mind whether it was the sort of thing his senior VP for communications should have in his office. His predecessor, J. J. Hollister, who had hired Nick after the unpleasantness—now there was a tobacco man of the old school, a man who in his day would have put away ten Camels with the Thanksgiving turkey, a man born with tar in his blood. A lovely man, kind, thoughtful, loved to sit around in his office after work over highballs and tell stories about the early days of slugging it out with Luther Terry, who had issued the catastrophic Surgeon General’s Report back in 1964. Nick’s favorite JJ story was—
“Nick, he said right away.”
Really, it was intolerable. And he would not put up with it. “I know, Gazelle.” To hell with it, he thought, flipping through his pink message slips like an unruly hand of poker; let Gazelle and BR wait. He would do his job.
He called the networks and issued his standard challenge to appear “anytime, anywhere” to debate with the surgeon general on the subject of cigarette billboard advertising or indeed on any topic. The surgeon general, for her part, had been refusing all Nick’s invitations on the grounds that she would not debase her office by sharing a public platform with a spokesman for “the death industry.” Nick went on issuing his invitations nonetheless. They made for better sound bites than explaining why the tobacco companies had the constitutional right to aim their billboard messages at little ghetto kids.

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Thank You for Smoking 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
bexaplex on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A tobacco industry lobbyist is kidnapped, bringing him a lot of publicity while simultaneously robbing him of the ability to enjoy cigarettes.This is one of the Buckley greats. Nick is yanked around from TV show appearances to meetings with the boss to unwise dalliances, somehow coming up roses after each one. It's a wonderful example of a protagonist spiraling upward instead of downward.
addunn3 on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A humorous look at big tobacco and how it has intertwined itself in politics. Lobbyist/PR person for the industry, through the "Institute", has a rocky trip as he attempts to ward of science, politicians, and the media in his attempts to convince the world that smoking is good for you and nicotine patches are dangerous!
aimless22 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Fast-moving, fast-talking, fast-read. A lobbyist for a large tobacco company takes on the politics of big business, government, office relationships, and personal friendships. Old school vs. new. Honor vs. greed. Buckley's vocabulary spanning the dictionary from abattoir to truncheon. Overall, an interesting, often funny, sometimes sad, novel.
Capfox on LibraryThing 3 months ago
All right, I admit that the reason why I picked this up a while back was because I really did like the movie. The nice thing here is that it wasn't really like the book much, so it gave a different experience.The main character, of course, was the same. Nick Naylor, the chief spokesman for the tobacco lobby, spins away to help keep cigarettes moving. The book does a really good job of showing him doing this: lying, telling only part of the truth, changing images, and taking advantage of whatever situations come his way.And some of the same situations do come; his main trial is, just as in the movie, a kidnapping in which he is covered in nicotine patches, in an attempt to kill him, for example. The meetings with the Mod Squad, the romance with the reporter, etc., are all still in there.Thing is, the thrust of the book, and many of the details, turn out to be different. The book plays much more as Naylor trying to survive in a very cut-throat game of office politics, maneuvering within the Academy of Tobacco Studies to try to keep his job under new management, and in opposition to the person his new boss badly wants to replace him with. He makes good use of outside events to help make himself as indispensible as he can; much of that is what makes the book really interesting.And it is interesting; funny, cynical, and quite imaginative, with a sharp writing style and a good political sense. Buckley has a lot of good ideas, and a good ear for dialogue, even though he can be silly at points. This made for a very fast read (I finished it days ago, but haven't really had computer access), and it's one I recommend for anyone in the mood for some good political satire.
naveensreedevan 12 months ago
the movie is really nice, informative. Also, one can learn how scheming senators are and how Media they do anything for a inside story. the ending Senate hearing is the best part. I liked the way the hero gives it back to his boss in style. never be seduced by the money trap. 300 years backs itself God has sent his angels who have guided some great scientist like charles boyle, Faraday etc to invent all his creations for benefit of all. Yet these greedy bstrds called Lawmakers, Enforcers and their shadow bosses want to give all people a life of endless challenges. I hope soon God sends a Blue Angel to give back in style to these Greedy guys who have taken away everything from us and they cry in shame. The title song is really foot tapping.
sonia-lilani More than 1 year ago
Nick Naylor, the protagonist in Thank You for Smoking, is the kind of character you love and hate; you don't like what he does, but you sympathize with him and want him to be happy. I always think the sign of a good writer is someone who can make an unlikeable character a likeable character at the same time. I would say this book is for a reader who is looking for an interesting, somewhat informative novel that focuses on the cigarette and tobacco industry, some of the lies they tell, and sales and marketing in general.
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Melissa Chennells More than 1 year ago
this book had me laughing every step of the way. it follows a tobbaco lobbyist doing the tasks given to him like lying to millons on larry king show or bribing a man dying of lung cancer from tobacco. it keeps you interested every step of the way
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Not as awesomely mind-blowing as I expected it to be but very good. There was a typical 80s conspiracy novel/Disclosure style to it with the good-guy-and-his-woman-friend-he ¿gets-close-to-and/or-hooks-up-with-vs.-the-evil-boss-and-his-squeeze- who-tries-to- seduce-good-guy archetypes. His vocabulary was just right as far as mood and context. I really loved his word play and the sarcasm was awesome. The scene where tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor finishes telling people, with a flourish, that tobacco is in no way harmful, then picks up his son for a movie marathon and lights up in the living room only to have his son admonish ¿Daaaaad¿¿ and he, defeated, goes on the terrace to smoke instead? Awesome. Totally caught the hypocrisy of the tobacco situation perfectly. Mind you I did think Nick was a bit of a dumb slut for reasons that will be clear if you read the book. My response was ¿Seriously, dude?¿ That was another aspect that reminded me of Disclosure a bit. I loved the way Nick kept referring to himself as a Nazi. I thought it was well-used and made Nick just sympathetic enough to be interesting. As much as reviewers said this ¿laughed at the sanctimony of their do-gooding opponents¿, I didn¿t really see it. I thought the novel more pointed toward extremity and established that everyone knows what the right answer really is with ¿sensitive issues¿ politics on the issues are a matter of fashion and neither side really has the right answer. I also loved the emphasis on selective ignorance the tobacco corporate heads bemoaning the fact that ¿now everyone wants to be so d**n healthy¿ and his insistence that they can continue to lie about tobacco products not being dangerous ¿it¿s just marketing!¿ and the risky likelihood of getting to the point where everyone¿s differing agenda makes them oblivious to the difference between the truth and lies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly amazing. The writing style and smart, political humor is amazingly written! Nick Naylor is my idol, he truly represents everything that i ever want to become. He is such a perfect little backstabber! It Is a must read!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of satire and sarcasm so Christopher Buckley was right up my alley. I'm also big on media studies so I really enjoyed reading about Nick Naylor and the blantant lies he tells regarding smoking. It's really embarassing that our society believes everything it's told... but hey, it made for a very entertaining novel. I liked the details about modern society (of couse meaning like 1995 when the book was published). I haven't seen the movie but I kind of feel like it couldn't top the book. Great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have yet to see the movie, but this book is wonderfully entertaining. I loved every bit of it. It was funny, sassy, and just plain wonderful. I actually wanted Nick to come out on top.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Thank You For Smoking and I found it to be an entertaining novel with good amounts of black humor. The novel follows a lobbyist who's talent is talking and uses it to it's full potentional whenever possible. Buckley uses a mesh of black humor while at the same time writes a interesting story of backstabbing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A romping, satirical and well-deserved indictment of the tobacco industry and its media spinsters, featuring a few real-life celebs in selected scenes to give it a nice touch of authencity. A must-read in any no-smoking lounge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I certainly did laugh out loud quite a bit. In actuality, it was probaby too short and time could have been spent building on Nick's relationship with the MOD squad. The deft ability of the protagonist to make lemonade out of lemons coupled with irreverance make this a very good, quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story of this book is excellent, but in many sections of the book it becomes very slow(I even skipped pages sometimes!) Definitely worth buying!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the more you read the more you begin to think about how funny America is and how it really works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Buckley does an excellent job using real-life dialogue. The characters are so hilariously stereo-typical that you'll probably bump into one of them today. The book is a laugh-out-loud read and makes you think twice about what you would do to pay the mortgage.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every page contains a five minute fit of laughter.