I am a big fan of reading books that might fall into a made-up genre called “reality satire”…books by authors like Christopher Buckley (Boomsday! and Thank You for Smoking) and Ben Elton (Popcorn and Dead Famous, and c’mon, he created BlackAdder and The Young Ones). I enjoy a humorous take on some of the more screwed up topics of the day like obsession with celebrity, or more serious subjects like the economy. And so I thought to myself, hey, Albert Brooks can be funny (honestly, I’m not an enormous fan. But he gets a free pass from me for George Kennedy’s performance in Modern Romance. And also for Out of Sight. Love that). And his twitter feed (@AlbertBrooks) is pretty amusing. So I ordered it from the library and read it in a few hours.
2030 gives us a peek at a potential future, where cancer has been cured, and access to superior drugs and surgery are extending life well into the 100s. However, America is dead broke, and health care is almost impossible to pay for (unless you are an “old” and have savings and social security). The younger generation is fed up with paying for and taking care of an older generation that simply doesn’t seem to be dying. And then a monster earthquake hits California — completely destroying Los Angeles, and leaving millions of Americans homeless, jobless, and miserable.
The President reaches out to China for a loan to help rebuilding LA, but China refuses, and has another plan for the rebirth of the greatest city in the USA.
The book jumps between 8 or 9 main plots and characters — some old and some young, some wealthy and some barely scraping by, some American and some Chinese. And for the most part, Brooks does a nice job and bringing the characters to life and making their stories interesting and sometimes funny. Brooks certainly isn’t re-inventing the wheel here, but for an actor/comedian, I thought it was pretty good.
PS — if you appreciate a certain type of British humor (BlackAdder, Stephen Fry, etc.), I recommend Ben Elton’s novels. He does a great job skewering celebrity in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. Here he is from one of my all-time favorite bits from the Young Ones…