Christopher Buckley's nicknames for his parents were Mum (for his mother, Patricia Taylor Buckley) and Pup (for his father, William F. Buckley). Over the span of a year (2007-2008), he was busy, making their last days as comfortable as possible before they died. He was an only child who had to bear the brunt of coping with their illnesses and deaths, without being able to share the burden with brothers and sisters (although other family members and close friends assisted him as much as possible). In this book, he describes that period in his life, providing insights into the private lives of his parents who occupied positions of prominence in U.S. society, especially in New York.
As most people know, William F. Buckley was the founder and guiding light of the National Review
, He served as its editor for over 30 years. People recognized him also as being an indefatigable leader of the conservative movement in the United States. Through his writings and public appearances, he diligently advocated conservative stances on volatile issues of the day. Aside from his politically-oriented activities, Buckley was very religious, a lifelong practicing Catholic. His son, Christopher, highlights all these various facets as he reviews his father's life in this memoir.
He does the same for his mother, who died first (in 2007). He recalls how his parents met, how they interacted over the years (including times when they were not on speaking terms with each other), and how they differed in their religious outlooks. His mother was not a Catholic and didn't attend church regularly, as her husband did.
In telling this story of the Buckley family, Christopher Buckley uses a breezy, almost flippant style, that readily engages a reader's attention. Even the most serious of events can cause him to see the humor in certain situations. Further, he appears to be unafraid of revealing less than flattering portraits of his parents, as he speaks of their life together and operation of the household he grew up in.
Suffice it to say, each of his parents ranked as clearly defined individuals, with strongly pronounced likes and dislikes. Further, the son succeeded in recognizing and identifying distinctive aspects of their personalities and how they contributed to or distracted from the longevity of their married life together. Additionally, he noted how in some instances their behavior affected his own family.
All in all, this memoir does a superb job of informing readers of who the Buckleys were and why they should be remembered.