Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley

39 of 75
Losing Mum and Pup
251 pages; Twelve
Christopher Buckley's lovely Losing Mum and Pup is the story of two deaths—that of his glamorous and funny mother, socialite Pat Buckley, and brilliant and funny father, conservative writer William F. Buckley— within a year of each other in 2007 and 2008.

Buckley, a veteran satirist, wrings a lot of laughs out of upsetting material, namely the experience of wrangling sick and willful parents, along with kindly doctors, an unctuous funeral director, bloodthirsty reporters, and some very famous friends. Like most memoirs written soon after the events they describe, this one is not terribly introspective. Instead the pleasure lies in getting to know one of New York's great power couples better. We learn of Bill's penchant for peeing out of moving cars, Pat's for telling whopping lies at dinner parties, and we get to read a bit of Bill's writing, which is so lucid and graceful it's obvious why he became the voice of conservative politics in America. While Buckley's memories of his parents are often unsparing—he is frequently appalled at their recklessness—they add up to the sweetest possible tribute. These were charming people, Buckley makes clear, and charming because they always knew exactly who they were.

This is one of O's top 10 books of 2009. See the complete list of terrific reads here.

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— Michele Owens