Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 16: Arguing with Christopher Hitchens

It's Day 16 in our 24 Days of Books, and we're in mourning. It was with great sadness that we learned this morning of the death of Christopher Hitchens. The news was not unexpected, as he had been dying quite publicly for the past eighteen months. Nevertheless. One of the finest essayists of his generation, a formidable contrarian, first-class raconteur and sharp-tongued wit, he leaves behind a mountain of published work that has provoked, infuriated, delighted,  criticized, explained, amused and entertained us for years. We will miss him. 

Hitchens’ most recent book, published in September, was recently named one of the Ten Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times. Fittingly, the title is Arguably. It’s a collection of dozens of elegant essays written for various publications. In these pieces, Hitchens brilliantly engages the reader in a wide range of political and cultural issues. 

Whether you agree (as we often do) or disagree (as we often do) with Mr. Hitchens, his opinions are always very well thought out and vividly expressed. Always eager to display his partisanship and never shrinking from a fight, he often dismayed even his biggest fans as they watched him change sides or refuse to adhere to a particular dogma.  

He was one of a kind. As Ian McEwan said, “If Hitchens didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be able to invent him.”

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