I usually cringe when I see that an author has decided to read his book. Writing is such a solitary task, and while research and other ancillary endeavors involved in writing are interesting, most authors cannot, for any length of time, read their own books well. This isn't always true, you have ones like Jean Sheppard or John Le Carre doing such a great job, others try. With Christopher Buckley, you get a good reader, who, because of his slight tongue-in-cheek manner sometimes, one wonders where I got that from, makes the book more humorous than the subject, losing ones parents, would normally be.
For me, LOSING MUM AND PUP: A MEMOIR stands as a testament to his parents, William F. and Patricia Buckley, and as such it is also a testament of himself: his parents were grand people standing on the grand stage of life, and while he has a certain amount of notoriety in the publishing world, he lives in shadows of them somewhat, especially his father.
With LOSING MUM AND PUP: A MEMOIR, their only son, Christopher, has given us, in this case the listener or reader, an excellent account of what he went through when he lost both of his parents within a year. This account, while perhaps too personal for some, is nonetheless honest and forthright. It speaks of the flaws of the author as much, if not more, than the subjects of his writing, his parents. And, what I find so remarkable was how his loss was so much more expressive when the words sometime came out of his mouth somewhat reluctantly, often skating to the edge of quivering (in the audio version), but never quite doing so, at certain points, such as reading his father's letter to others after his mother's passing.
I only knew William F. Buckley through his writings, his guest appearances on the talk shows and his interview show "Firing Line." In everything he did, he tackled serious subjects with tenacity and wit, and just when it looked as if the person he was talking to or interviewing was going to get a valid point-in, Mr. Buckley would open his mouth, touch the tip of his tongue to his top lip and say something, usually very economically, that would shoot down the other's point as if it was a clay pigeon hit by both shots of a double-barreled shotgun...>BAM< Got you!
As for Patricia Taylor Buckley, she was just as remarkable. She had to be because Bill and she were married for 57 dull-free years, and while this book deals with her passing, too, it is with the loss of William F. that we learn as much about the son as we do the father.
For Christopher dealt and interacted with his father as his health declined, like many caught in this situation, you witness a week-to-week, sometimes day-to-day, deterioration in what they can do, what they can remember, and in how they treat you. You learn as much about Christopher as you do his father, as William F. Buckley goes through the whole Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and experience his exasperation, at times.
In closing, let me say there are some who may feel that Christopher has done a "hatchet" job on his parents, or he did a disservice to them by telling us as much as he did. I disagree with those readers. In my eyes, he has given us a glimpse into the wonderful lives of his parents, and a understanding of what a person, in this case an only son, goes through when he becomes an "orphan" within a year. How he deals with his dad is similar to what many children have had to deal with when a parent, especially a parent who pretty much got their own way before, is dying. Only, in this case, instead of ones sister or a cousin calling you to hear how ones parent is doing, you have Henry Kissinger calling to say, "I miss your reports (on your father's health)." With that message, you realize even further that William F. Buckley was no normal man with normal friends).
If you can, buy the audio version, but if you cannot, or do not have the time or facilities to listen to the audio version, buy the book. If you have enjoyed William F. Buckley in the past, you will enjoy hearing or reading about him through the eyes of his son. And, if you haven't read anything else my Christopher Buckley, this book will, like it did for me, encourage you to read this other works (I am on my second, of what I hope are many more).