Dead or alive, the Buckleys continue to command attention. The BBC has a William F. Buckley documentary in production, and two biographies are on the way: an authorized life by New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus and an oral history by former Washington Post gossip columnist Lloyd Grove. Bill Buckley's 55th book, The Reagan I Knew, which he was close to finishing when he died, has just been published by Basic Books. A memoir of his personal and political relationship with President Reagan, it includes 40 years of correspondence between Buckley and both Ronald and Nancy Reagan, as well as a foreword by Christopher Buckley, who helped Linda Bridges of the National Review complete it.
But the book that will no doubt create the greatest stir is Christopher's own memoir of his parents' last days, Losing Mum and Pup, due out in May. Coming on the heels of his latest novel, Supreme Courtship, a send-up of the nation's highest judicial institution, it will be his 14th book--literary prolificacy runs in the family. "Writing this book may have been simply a way of spending more time with my parents, before finally letting them go," Christopher, who is 56, told me. "I honestly had no intention of writing about them. But I'm a writer, and when the universe hands you material like this, it would seem an act of conscious omission not to do something about it. It spilled out of me. I wrote it in 40 days--no biblical association intended. This book is going to land hard in some quarters, although anyone who concludes that it's anything but an act of love will, I think, be wrong. It's a book about two very complex people. 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."