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Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir, by Christopher Buckley (Read by the Author)


Christopher Buckley must be very careless, since according to Oscar Wilde, "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." And Christopher lost both of his illustrious parents in less than a year. In this witty, entertaining memoir Christopher Buckley invites the listener into his heart as he bids his parents good-bye. His mother, Patricia Taylor Buckley, died of complications from an infection. In describing her, Christopher vacillates between adoration and bitterness. Although her antics take on the label of quirkiness in the retelling, they must have seemed brutally insensitive to the young Christopher. His relationship with his father, the "conservative icon" William F. Buckley, was similarly two-sided. It's apparent through the touching memories that he recounts that he has a deep love and respect for WFB, but he also describes hurtful comments and incidents that continue to haunt him.

To say that this audio book is deeply personal would be an extreme understatement. Not only does Christopher describe in detail his parents' deteriorating health in their final months, he discloses family situations that are usually kept private. The sicknesses, deaths and burial details of one's parents are not usually something that can be presented in a humorous way, but Christopher Buckley's skill as a writer makes it seem natural and appropriate. In mourning them he shares with the listener, not only his parents' greatness, but their embarrassing shortcomings. One example of Pat's outrageous but comical behavior occurred at a party at their home in Switzerland. Ted Kennedy was visiting and when he asked to borrow a car to drive back to his hotel, she loudly exclaimed, "Good God, don't let him. There are at least two bridges between here and Gstaad."

Even after their deaths, Christopher continues to marvel at his parents' love for and devotion to each other. Although their marriage seemed contentious for many of their 57 years together, they remained each other's biggest supporters and defenders. This audio book is both heart-warming and heart-breaking as Christopher alternates between recollections of warm, humorous moments and stinging, embarrassing words and incidents. Whether listeners were fans of William F. Buckley and his wife or not, their son's witty tribute to them is sure to win Christopher Buckley new admirers for his amusing, insightful writing and his entertaining narration.

Ruth Mormon
6/19/09

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