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Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir by Christopher…

Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir (2009)

by Christopher Buckley

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Christopher Buckley, an author who I'm rather fond of, turns his trademark wit on himself as he relates his experience of losing both of his parents. Regardless of what one thinks of his father, Christopher's stories about their complicated relationship and their final times together are both heartwarming and sad and worth reading for any fan of the author of Thank You For Smoking. ( )
  BrookeAshley | Jun 5, 2013 |
Some other reviewers have called the author a whiny, self-centered, ungrateful brat, and they are entirely correct. However, if he was indeed raised by his parents (William F. Buckley jr and wife Patricia) as indicated in this memoir, they have only themselves to blame.
The stars are for the style, which is quite entertaining, and the name-dropping.
And somewhat for the emotional catharsis. ( )
  librisissimo | May 27, 2013 |
A perfectly splendid memoir, which seems an odd thing to say about a book primarily concerned with death. Buckley is hilarious, wry and incisive. He never descends into the maudlin, but he is vulnerable and open about his grief and the ways he moves through it.

The rich ARE different, of course, and some of the memories he shares are the stuff of dreams to the rest of us- but more of it is universal, the fabric of love and loss. Buckley's own voice is perfect for the narration, and I enjoyed listening to him speak.

There's plenty of name-dropping, how could there not be? There's a bit of dirty laundry, but nothing shocking. Mostly there is love, respect and loss interspersed with genuine hilarity.

Highly recommended. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This was a quick, humorous read. I don't agree with a lot of Christopher Buckley's political positions, so you can only imagine how I felt about his father while he was alive. But Christopher's tender treatment of his parents, especially his father, elicited in me more sympathy than I knew I had for William F. Buckley, Jr. A solid 2-and-a-half stars, better than just "ok." ( )
  cat-ballou | Apr 2, 2013 |
I share little in common with the Buckley family and from what I can tell, it's highly unlikely that our social circles would ever intersect (or that I'd be friends with them if I did happen to meet them), but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of this memoir.

Christopher Buckley's writing is clear and smooth and a pleasure to read, although the beginning of the book is a little more so on all counts than it was as the book progressed (e.g., he repeated phrases that I thought were amusing/cute/witty the first time but which lost their luster with repetition). Overall, though, he did a very good job of drawing me into his experience of finding himself, rather suddenly, a grown-up orphan.

The biggest connection I have with the story is probably the sticky and nuanced nature of the parent-child relationship. I will not go into detail about my relationship with my own parents, but I will say that Buckley does an admirable job of showing how the people we love can be some of the most challenging people to...well...love. My parents bear little resemblance to the senior Buckleys, but I can certainly relate to the dynamic Christopher Buckley describes.

Another element that drew me through the book was a sense of there being so much more between the lines of this memoir. I tried to imagine what it would have been like growing up in the Buckley household and dining with Norman Mailer or having Nancy Reagan as a houseguest or rubbing elbows with Kennedys. I admit, I read into the distance Buckley seems to describe between himself and his parents and made comparisons with the lack of contact he seems to have with his own wife and children (the idea of taking off for Switzerland while grieving for a parent rather than clinging to my husband and children is a fairly foreign one to me, and not just because I still don't have a passport). Memoir does invite a bit of armchair psychoanalysis, I think, wondering about the reliability of the narrator and about his choice of what to include as well as what to omit.

A surprising piece in all of this is the practical advice. Buckley's candid about the costs associated with burying one's parents, and he suggests, among other things, having parents pre-negotiate funeral expenses. Not sure how I would broach this topic with my folks, but it's an interesting idea and one I'd not even considered.

It's likely that someone with better knowledge of or interest in the Buckley family might get something different out of this book, but I think it says something that a reader coming to this book with neither (knowledge nor interest) felt a connection to the people in it.

A favorite quote about Buckley's experience of writing the memoir:

"Writing it (I suspect) was intended to enable catharsis; now, as I reach the end, it seems to me that I may have written it out of a more basic need: as an excuse to spend more time with them before letting them go---if, indeed, one ever really lets them go." ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Dec 31, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Control and the confessional impulse abide uneasily in a single manuscript, which is what makes this memoir -- for all its apparent candor -- hollow and unsatisfying. Christopher Buckley is curiously silent, for example, concerning the influence of his outsized parents and their melodramatic marriage on his own somewhat messy personal life.
The memoir provoked by their lives and deaths is loving, exasperated and very funny. In its moments of real ambivalence, “Losing Mum and Pup” is surprisingly strong drink.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446540943, Hardcover)

In twelve months between 2007 and 2008, Christopher Buckley coped with the passing 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 and colorful socialites. He was their only child and their relationship was close and complicated. Writes Buckley: "They were not - with respect to every other set of loving, wonderful parents in the world - your typical mom and dad."
As Buckley tells the story of their final year together, he takes readers on a surprisingly entertaining tour through hospitals, funeral homes, and memorial services, capturing the heartbreaking and disorienting feeling of becoming a 55-year-old orphan. Buckley maintains his sense of humor by recalling the words of Oscar Wilde: "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness."
Just as Calvin Trillin and Joan Didion gave readers solace and insight into the experience of losing a spouse, Christopher Buckley offers consolation, wit, and warmth to those coping with the death of a parent, while telling a unique personal story of life with legends.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:26 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Bestselling author Buckley's most personal and transcendent work--the tragicomic true story of the year in which he lost both of his parents. The author offers consolation, wit, and warmth to those coping with the death of a mother or father.

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