Book news for August 31, 1990 -- John Buckley and Dennis the Menace made news this week

The Simpsons Sing the Blues

Cutting the Grass
Media consultant and novelist John Buckley isn’t running scared, but some of his characters and plenty of his peers are. Buckley’s second novel, a comic thriller called Statute of Limitations, describes the dilemma of a presidential speechwriter who is blackmailed by his college roommate over past drug use — a scenario that has struck a very raw nerve in Washington’s young political set. ”We’re talking about a generation where just about everybody used drugs,” says Buckley. ”An entire generation is vulnerable to being blacklisted or blackmailed because of past drug use — it’s a situation rife with comic potential.” Buckley realizes that writing Statute of Limitations sets him up for questions about his own past, and he has his answer ready. ”I’ll tell you — Nancy Reagan taught me an important thing: ‘Just say no.’ I was born in 1957 — my generation is forced to lie. Telling the truth is fraught with peril.”

Boomer Baby
Dennis the Menace, born late in 1950, was a Dr. Spock baby. ”That’s when Dr. Spock was flying high,” says Hank Ketcham, Dennis’ creator — who, by the way, does not blame the famously permissive baby doctor for Dennis’ terrible behavior. Even though he turns 40 this fall, Dennis is still — and always will be — ”five-ana-half.” To celebrate his comic-strip-style birthday, Abbeville Press is publishing The Merchant of Dennis, an autobiography of Ketcham as well as a retrospective of the towheaded scamp, based on Ketcham’s real-life son. ”At four years,” Ketcham writes, ”Dennis Ketcham was a thirty-six-pound handful. Too young for school, too big for his playpen, too small to hit, not old enough for jail — and one hundred percent Anti-Establishment.” What would Dr. Spock think of Dennis the Menace? Ketcham responds, ”He’d say, ‘There’s a real h hlthy boy and I hope everyone has the pleasure of having one in their own house.”’

The Simpsons Sing the Blues
  • Music