This weekend, The New York Times Magazine will print an excerpt from Chris Buckley's much-hyped memoir about his parents, Losing Mum and Pup. It goes through the cycles to which we've now become familiar: "Here's an example of how my parents behaved badly toward me, and here's the part where I say I forgive them," and reveals a little bit of what we didn't already know. (For example, that William F. Buckley carefully moderated his physical chemistry in his later years using sleeping pills, caffeine, and Ritalin. He would have been a great blogger.) There are also many touching moments:
"Even when Pup was despairing of her behavior — as he did only occasionally — and sought refuge on the lecture circuit or wherever, he would call her every night, trying reconciliation with, “Hi, Duck.” “Duck” was the formal, vous version of “Ducky,” their term of affection for each other. If a transcript existed of their 57-year-long marriage and you did a computer quick-find search of “Ducky,” you’d find 1,794,326 matches."
But what's become clear is that the book, for all its hype-oriented excerpts, is really much more akin to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking than to any of Chris Buckley's own biting and wry prose. And the best evidence that it will do well is that each time one of these damn segments comes out, even if they're all a repeat, we just keep reading them.
Growing Up Buckley [NYT]