Buckley’s command of the language and the quality of his targets — presidents, editors, pundits from his era — makes Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription a worthwhile endeavor. But Buckley’s newest effort has something more to offer young writers, artists, and journalists, and that’s the idea that one must trust his own voice. Anyone who tries to do anything worthwhile in life will come up against his fair share of detractors. The truly successful push forward anyway. If Buckley had taken his intellectual ball and gone home after any of the various slights in Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription’s pages, America would’ve lost a singular literary talent, and conservatism may well have been discarded to the ashbin of history.
The Buckley who gives as good as he gets is the Buckley that America has come to know and begrudgingly respect — and a different man from the Buckley that mainstream America has come to mythologize. Those who know the difference and prefer the former won’t be disappointed by Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription — even if they decline taking its editor up on his advice.