Conservative figure William F. Buckley and socialite Patricia Buckley died within months from each other after 57 years of marriage, leading many to think the true cause of William’s death was a broken heart. However, in a memoir by their only son Christopher Buckley, he reveals that their marriage wasn’t all lovey-dovey.
“I was the person in the middle,” Buckley tells W Magazine. “We clashed often. I was sort of tapped as a go-between marriage counselor. [Pup would say,] ‘You won’t believe what your mother’s done now.’ That’s not really fair, but I’m not complaining, exactly,” he adds. Buckley reveals that Pat didn’t speak to Bill “about a third of the time,” and that he himself “often cut off contact with both parents for months on end.”
Buckley’s memoir also shares how in his mother’s later years, her drinking became increasingly problematic. But in neither the interview nor book, does he call mom an “alcoholic.”
“I’m not going to use that word into your tape recorder, having carefully avoided it over the course of 250 pages,” he says.
Pat Buckley passed away on April 2007, at age 80. She’s regarded as a New York socialite, raised by a fine family in Canada and an ardent philanthropist. William Buckley died February 2008, at age 82. His greatest achievement was shepherding the popular political magazine, National Review. Son Christopher, too, has lived an influential life — as a successful author of several books, he once penned a widely-read column for National Review (until he wrote an endorsement for Barack Obama on The Daily Beast, costing him his job).
“Writing this book may have been simply a way of spending more time with my parents before finally letting them go,” Buckley told Vanity Fair’s Bob Colacello for the magazine’s January issue. “I honestly had no intention of writing about them.”
But once he started typing, the words flowed with the greatest of ease. “When the universe hands you material like this,” he says, “it would seem an act of conscious omission not to do something about it.”
It took him 40 days to write it.
Losing Mum and Pup, publisher Twelve, hits book stores in May. And it’s most likely going to start a sensation, says Buckley.
“This book is going to land hard in some quarters,” he insists. “They were not your typical mom and dad. This is not Ozzie and Harriet. They were William F. and Pat Buckley. The phrase ‘larger than life’ doesn’t twice cover it.”