Excerpt: 'Losing Mum & Pup'

Summer reading roundup - Losing Mum and Pup

Within the span of 12 months between 2007 and 2008, Christopher Buckley had to cope with the death of his father, William F. Buckley, the father of the modern conservative movement, and his mother, Patricia Taylor Buckley, one of New York's most glamorous socialites. The relationship between the three of them was as close as it was complicated.

In "Losing Mum & Pup," Buckley describes their final year together and how it felt to become an orphan at the age of 55. To all those coping with a parent's death, he offers solace and warmth.

Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.

PREFACE

You're Next

I'm not sure how this book will turn out. I mostly write novels, and I've found, having written half a dozen, that if you're lucky, the ending turns out a surprise and you wind up with something you hadn't anticipated in the outline. I suppose it's a process of outsmarting yourself (not especially hard in my case). Perhaps I'm outsmarting myself by writing this book at all. I'd pretty much resolved not to write a book about my famous parents. But I'm a writer, for better or worse, and when the universe hands you material like this, not writing about it seems either a waste or a conscious act of evasion.

By "material like this," I mean losing both your parents within a year. If that sounds callous or cavalier, it's not meant to be. My sins are manifold and blushful, but callousness and arrogance are not among them (at least, I hope not). The cliché is that a writer's life is his capital, and I find myself, as the funereal dust settles and the flowers dry, wanting—needing, perhaps more accurately—to try to make sense of it and put the year to rest, as I did my parents. Invariably, one seeks to move on. A book is labor, and as Pup taught me from a very early age—so early, indeed, that I didn't have the foggiest idea what he was talking about—"Industry is the enemy of melancholy." Now I get it. There's this, too: My parents were not—with all respect to every other set of son-and-daughter-loving, wonderful parents in the wide, wide world—your average mom and dad. They were William F. Buckley Jr. and Patricia Taylor Buckley, both of them—and I hereby promise that this will be the only time I deploy this particular cliché—larger-than-life people. A gross understatement in their case. I wonder, having typed that: Is it name-dropping when they're your own parents?

But larger than life they both were, and then some. Larger than death, too, to judge from the public outpouring and from the tears of the people who loved them and mourn them and miss them, none more than their son, even if at times I was tempted to pack them off to earlier graves. Larger-than-life people create larger-than-life dramas.

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