Monday, April 7, 2008

william f. buckley, jr., memorial service

continuing my review of the stack of newspapers waiting for me when i got home, i found the saturday ny times covered the memorial service for william f. buckley, jr., held at st. patrick's cathedral on friday. while i didn't remember having read about his memorial service i was surprised to see this item in the news. he died on february 27, and i imagined that the memorial would have been held weeks ago.

it was certainly a coincidence that i finished "overdrive: a personal documentary," on the flight home from north carolina. after i learned of his death, i chose to reread this book as my own personal tribute to his memory. it documents one week during his life in the early 1980's, covering such material as the taping his pbs show, "firing line," the writing of his column and replies to correspondence, socializing, and the normal ebb and flow of his daily activities. it was a welcome refresher on how diverse, interesting and extraordinary his life was.

"overdrive" was actually the second buckley book i read. "atlantic high: a celebration," was the first one - way back in 1982. i came to enjoy buckley mainly through his sailing books, with "atlantic high" as the first of his four trans-oceanic books that i read over the next 15 or so years. i would sometimes watch "firing line," and occasionally read his column. but i didn't read his fiction, nor was i generally a reader of his other non-fiction books.

the last buckley book i read was "miles gone by: a literary autobiography," during the summer of 2004. we were on vacation and spent a week in misquamicut, rhode island. just taking my copy off the bookshelf now brings back the memories of reading it on that stretch of beach. i was saddened to learn of buckley's death. but when his son reported that he, at the age of 83, was found dead at his desk where he was working on a column, a more fitting departure could not have been penned.

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