In Which Chris Buckley makes me sad
Chris Buckley, son of the Lion of the Right William F. Buckley, has long been one of my favorite fiction writers. I especially love his novels “No Way to Treat a First Lady” and “Supreme Courtship.” I’ve been lucky enough to meet him twice–once when I was much younger, when “First Lady” came out, and once when “Courtship” did, and we had a lovely conversation.
His latest book is not fictional. It is about the loss of both his parents inside of a year. It’s told with typical Chris Buckley humor, but at the same time, bracing honesty. Neither Mum nor Pup come across as especially wonderful people much of the time–the former especially. WFB was a hard-core conservative and I am a hard-core liberal and I suspect that we would have agreed on perhaps 3, maybe 4, things. The folks he hung out with were, by and large, not my people. Reagen, Kissinger, any Bushes at all…no thanks.
But in the book, when he isn’t coming across as a total hardass, I found descriptions of him quite moving. And for both of them, Buckley the younger’s honesty is refreshing–and sympathetic. He has written a superb memoir of something that we will all face, at some point, even if not in the exact same manner. My family came close to losing someone this year, so I am especially aware of what it would have been like had things been just a little different, had the tumor been of a different sort. As someone who has always had a Paralyzing Fear of Death (h/t Damages) parts of this book, and Buckley’s reckoning of his own morality, were hard to read–but worth it. Such books often are.